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police force. on sunday, paul pierce stephenson resigned at the police. i want to thank him for his work he has carried out for many, many years in london and elsewhere. on monday, assistant commissioner john yates also resigned, and i want to vote thank him. given the sudden departure, the first concern must be to assure the affect of policing, i have asked the home secretary to ensure that the response ability will continue seamlessly. the current deputy commissioner stepped in and will shortly do a good job again. the counter-terrorism job will be taken on by the highly experienced president. the responsibility of the deputy commission that involves oversight will not be done by someone from inside but instead by one that will join temporarily from her majesty's establishments.
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we are also looking to speed up the process. we cannot hope that a change in personnel is enough. the simple fact is that it raises huge issues about the ethics and practices of our police. this is beyond reproach. it serves the public with distinction. it is evident. i believe we can do more. there is a lack of transparency for police transparency. these are precisely the two points that they address. we believe this crisis calls for us to stand back.
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there is a broad culture of policing in this country. at the moment, it is too close. there are too few and too similar candidates. everyone knows they're looking into police careers. i want to see a radical ways to bring in fresh leadership. why should someone with a different skill set be able to join? why should someone who is a proven success overseas be able to help us here at home? we need a stronger governance. let me turn to these specific questions that i have been asked in recent days.
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he did not take up the offer to be briefed on police investigations. i have said repeatedly that they should pursue the evidence where it leads. this is exactly what they have done. it shows my staff be paid entire properly. they made clear that it would not be appropriate to give me or my staff and the privilege briefings.
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the reply that he sent was cleared in advance by my secretary. imagine if they had done the opposite. there would have been justified outrage. there would be a police investigation. it was understandably projected. they put that judgment, too. there is question whether the code was broken and in regard to the merger with news international executive.
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they have rolled clearly that the code was the number again. not at least because i has to be entirely excluded. they have also employed neil wallace. all the candidates have been gone through. neither he nor his company has ever been employed by a contracted by the conservative party.
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about this issue. finally, there is the question whether everyone is taking responsibility in an appropriate manner. i want to address my own responsibilities very directly. it brings me to my decision. i have said very clearly that if it turns out he knew about the hacking he will not only have lied to me, but he would have lied to the police and perjured himself in a court of law. if that comes to pass, he could face severe criminal charges. that would be a moment for a profound apology.
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i will not fall short. on the work he did, perhaps not for the last time, it has not been the subject of any serious complaints. he left months ago. i believe i have answered every question about this. it was my decision. i take responsibility. >> i apologize for interrupting. the house has come to order. people will make judgments about it. i regret and and sorry about what this has caused. i would not have offered him the job.
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i accept -- expect he would not have taken it. you live and learn. i have learned. i have answered any and all questions about this issue. the greatest responsibility i have is to clear this mess. there are criminal accusations. they have to make a fresh start. what they expect is not petty political point scoring.
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what they deserve is conservative action to rise to the level of events and solve this issue once and for all. it is in that spirit that i commend this.
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>> thank you for your statement. the most powerful institutions must show the irresponsibility we expect. this is why a country wants this. those responsible can be held accounted. there are announcement for the scenes. i welcome the prime minister's agreement with us. i welcome the apology from rupert murdoch. we respect the decision of support to stand down.
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we're beginning to see answer is given. this is right. >> i have a number of questions for the prime minister. he said a few moments ago that the remainder should be heard in silence. i say the same to members that are now heckling. think about what the public thinks about the behavior order and stop it without delay. >> the prime minister said that he was excluded from the
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decision making process. it is not quite answer the questions he has been asked. last friday he revealed that since taking office he had met representatives including rebekah brooks and james murdock on 26 separate locations. my question is whether he can assure the house that the bid was not raised at any of those meetings. was there at any time he discussed the bid with officials of the culture? >> 10 days ago, the prime minister said i was not given any specific information that would lead you to change my mind. it would have made every effort to uncover the information. they made every effort for the facts. did would surely have led him to change his mind about mr. coulson. all would decline. he was accused of making payments to police. the prime minister did nothing with the information. in may of 2010, he warned the prime minister of bringing him into downing street. he did nothing. on september the fourth 2010,
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the new york times published an investigation " in most civil -- quoting multiple sources. we know that article is not enough to open their increase. we know it triggers the termination of the metropolitan police. that led to the author. he said it is right that it does not taken up. the question is why. the prime minister was compromised by his relationship.
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therefore, he cannot be told anything at all about his investigation concerning a member of his own staff. he was struck by conflict of interest. the prime minister should not have had to rely on briefings from his chief of staff. here was a major investigation published by global newspaper about the director of communications. he was not mentioned in the article. what did the prime minister do? he did nothing. the public will rightly have expected very loud alarm bells to ring. in october, he was approached again by the guardians about the behavior. once more, nothing was done. this cannot be put down to gross incompetence. it was hiding it.
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>> member should not be shouting out. they should call themselves. -- they should calm themselves. there is the discrepancies
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between their standards, he made the wrong choice. can he now explain why he failed to act on clear informations and why those around him build a wall of silence? the conflict of interest have real effect. the metropolitan police commissioner resigned on sunday. the house must talk about it. he was strapped. he was not being told about the situation.
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in doing so would have compromised the prime minister. why did he think this? his own deputy said the prime minister should be told nothing. this error of judgment directly contributed to this. his conflict of interest was the police commissioner.
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there are three questions. there were warnings that were consistently ignored. these and many other questions will have to be answered. there was one other question that matters now. he says in hindsight he made a mistake by hiring him. he said if he lied to him he would apologize.
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that is not good enough. it is not about hindsight. it is about all the information and warnings that the prime minister ignores. why doesn't he do more? what does indeed provide the full apology now for hiring him and bring him in? >> what i would say is stop hunting feeble conspiracy theories. most of that was this. let me thank him for what he says. other to samos' of the
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questions i think he wrote them before he heard them. he asked about the issue of this. he said there is no breach. you heard the evidence yesterday. they said there is not one single inappropriate conversation. when it comes to meetings, i set out every single meeting. he published a list. he does not go back to the selection. when we going to see the transparency from tony blair? secondly, there are questions. >> we want to listen to what the prime minister has to say.
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>> no one has raised a single question about his questions. there is only one party leader with a new executive. the questions he raises, is he honestly saying that the leader of the opposition suggesting that he knows better that the cabinet secretary worked diligently? i think the issue is a staggering lack of judgment. it is inconvenient. he set out the reasons for his resignation. he explained how this was so different from the situation. most of the questions he had already answered.
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let's be clear about what we heard yesterday. rupert murdoch said the politician i was closest to was gordon brown. let's remember who was invited 1/4 brown was the chancellor. let us remember who was there when he was the chancellor? let us remember reports of the information commissioner. if you like, there is the slumber party. everyone can see exactly what he is doing. he can blame it for narrow party advances. they have been taking place. the problem is for both our main parties. >> order. >> under the previous government, he was arrested by the metropolitan police. the prime minister was not notified of the details. they were not told.
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is it not there? he did exactly what they should not do.
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>> he makes a very big point. when you see what he said, he saw that it was cleared in advance. we do not live in a country or the prime minister's ordering who should be arrested.
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>> he made a statement on monday. there were two words that were not mentioned. we were not in a situation where his best buddy was working for us. did he know that neil wallace was giving advice? >> no. . i did not know that. i was unaware of that. i think this is important. one of the issues is the transparency and information that there was. there was no hiding the fact that they had this. >> i want to thank you for the announcement.
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he has said that all governments have been far too close to the media giants. that means no more back door living to no. 10. there are cabinet papers. there are recommendations for it to be implemented. >> i accept the plea make about transparency. there are of official business meetings with media executives. with relation, the fact is not whether he came in through the back or front door, but was it declared in the proper way?
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in the old days the only day whether you found out was waiting for this. we have been very transparent about this. it goes back to the election. i think we need to go further in this regard. i think this should be the new standard. he has published information to when he became leader. what can reduce why can we not see back to the stacks >> when he raises the extensive investigation, what was his reaction to that? >> my question is whether there is the information that he knew about hacking into "news of the world" if he knew, he would have lied to the police. he would have lied to me. i made the decision because of
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the assurances he gave me. there's no information that leads me to change my mind. if it turns out that he knew about it, that would be a matter of huge regret and apology. it is something that would be subject is of prosecution. >> what people really care about is the appalling situation. there's the public anger about it. it is expressly fell by thousands of dedicated and courageous police officers. for that reason it is essential
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that they make it possible. a judicial inquiry should get under way. you can give absolute assurance that it will be given the priority that they should have been given a long time ago. >> they are entirely right. you've got to keep the victims of the scandal. they have suffered appallingly. the key is the scale of the query. -- inquiry. it has been talked about. in now be under way. i want to get here as rapidly as possible. >> i must challenge the prime minister.
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he said nobody raised a new concept. i did this on the fourth of october. there are new allegations that he listened to. i said this caps out on his statement. i'm still waiting for a reply. >> let me pay tribute to what he has done. the point i am making is this. the time he spent, the work he did for the government, no one has made. that does seem to me important. i gave him a second chance. after he resigns, because of what happens, no one has raised any of his contact with me.
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>> thank you. the prime minister has said the context of the media will be published in the general election. i do not think that is good enough. we need to know the context they have held. >> this is specifically looking at the relationship between politicians and the media. there is the conduct of both. that can go back as far as it wants to go back. we all need to be clear. this has been very great. we did spend too much time trying to get on.
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as a result, we have put on the back burner to often the issues of how to regulate the mission. it is not just this. it is also about the work we tried to do with the bbc or the guardian. let's be frank about this. we can learn our lessons and news this. we can sort out their relationship. >> i am not sure if the prime minister was awakened at 4:00 this morning. i'm glad to hear it. they published a unanimous
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report. there is a serious judgment. they had deliberately ported it. he will not have had a chance. he said he took five minutes to look at the file and realize there is criminality. he said anyone you had information should handed over immediately and explain why it has been withheld. >> i would listen doubt that message. a thank you for the work. i not been able to study all of the evidence.
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i think the work that the committee is doing is drilling down into the conduct is extremely valuable. the police investigation is indeed needs to get to the truth. then they can lead the inquiry get under way. i think it played a very good role. >> does the prime minister share my concern that this is a involved in a very important discussion? most people are concerned about what is going on. there's the impact that it might have on their jobs. the leader is so narrowly focused. >> the public wants us to sort this out. the reason they want us to do it is that they want us to get on with the other issues. everyone has to recognize the threat and the problems that we face. it would affect as write-in in
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the situation. >> was there any mention of the bid? >> there is never a conversation that could have been held in front of the committee. he asked me to answer the question. perhaps he could be transparent about all of the contacts he has had. i have set out the clearest possible situation. it is up to others to do the same thing. >> in light of the revelations, does the prime minister agree to be so reluctant? there's a judicial inquiry.
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>> people should not shout. he's making a very valid point. this is not reflect very well. there were a lot of warnings about what was going wrong. warnings and the commissioner. warnings from the others. we should not be pointing fingers. we need to work on this to get it right and respond to these reports. >> this was sent off of the legal firm. there is obvious evidence the police of listeners were paid for information. they are still refusing this to be fully considered. i'm insisting on client
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confidentiality. isn't this clear evidence that news international are still refusing to cooperate? >> that information needs to be given. what we need to happen now is for the police to go in pursuit of the truth. if people have been paying police officers, the police officers need to be prosecuted. it is as simple as that. >> after hearing the evidence,
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can i warmly welcome what they said today about the attention they would give? it includes a wide variety. is he aware that the evidence will take a considerable rate of time for all of those victims to be informed of? of their cases are now properly investigated. >> that is a good point. you have the current rate of progress. ticket take too long to get this done. i know there will be conversations to make sure adequate resources are put it there. they make sure that they get to the bottom of that. >> i will welcome the position to widen this not just to the
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press but too broad for dick to broadcasters. can i ensure that it will include other accounts? in the interest of the victims, there is the extent of their relationship. >> i have been totally transparent. on the issue of what the terms of reference mentioned, of course this can look at all the information crimes that have been documented. if you mentioned some of but not others you're given additional priority. he can go with the evidence leads.
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>> after the extraordinary events of the last few days, at the last thing the general public wants to see is cheap partisanship. >> the focus on coulson comes ill. >> i think she makes a big point.
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i think she showed commendable clout. >> in the course of the past the minutes, the prime minister has been asked a simple question twice and refuse to answer its. as prime minister, did he ever discuss the question of the bid with news international? >> i never had one inappropriate conversation. let me be clear. i completely took myself out of any decision making about to this bid. i had no role in it. with the honorable gentleman makes signals like that, i have to say. >> the house needs to come down. the question was properly heard. >> i've answered the question. unlike the party he has been supporting, this set out on his contacts and meetings.
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>> judging the mood of the chamber, this might be an unpopular thing to say. i get the impression that they have had their fill on this subject. they want answers about the relationship between the press and the media. this is where the answers come. she is placed on hold. there other matters. >> we said that the biggest possible inquiry that was double held under the 13 years of the government.
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we have to find the answers to all of the questions. it looks at the police. it looks at media. it looks at the concept of politicians. it is able to ask all of these questions. we should be able to get on fairly. >> its seems to have shifted. they still have not fully revealed few knew what and when. rupert murdoch said the exact same situation was and flattered. >> he said to tell it to the truth.
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>> does the prime minister agree with me that they ignored the ipo warnings and having failed the victims in 2009, they missed evidence in their own position and that we should not fail them now by simply giving blame? what we need is real reform. >> you're absolutely right. it can go back over the warnings. we should use this information. it is a chance to get regulation rights. >> this is about confidence. >> does the prime minister really feel that the prime minister should inspire confidence? doesn't he realize how he has acted in the last few years? >> yes. which government has set up a judicial inquiry?
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which has made sure there is a full investigation? which government is being totally transparent about his contacts with the media? that is what this government has done. he had all these opportunities and failed to do it. >> in the past when it has been faced with big issues, they have a tendency for knee-jerk overreaction. would you agree that they have
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good in this country? they want criminality weeded out of the media. there is the free speech. >> i think he is entirely right about this. there is a debate to show an element of restraint in the media. there's always a danger that the pendulum swings too far the other way. we start to question a strong and independent media. when we uncover some scandals, it has been the press that has done it and not the regulators. it is vital we remain here. >> rebekah brooks described the prime minister as a friend. we heard about conversations.
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>> this is the mother of parliaments where we have free speech. this question will be heard. >> given the review, it does the prime minister believe that such informality was consistent with what was expected? one of the things that came out of the evidence is that whereas rebekah brooks was indicted six times a year, she has not been invited to no. 10 by me. i have set out the great contrast. i have set out all the meetings in complete contrast to the party opposite. and never held a slumber party. >> thank you.
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>> it is political order. >> the house wants to hear this. >> i will start again. >> this has been undermined. if camby traced to the dismal example of politicians in the mid-1990s. how can we change that culture, address the abysmal failure and is sure that never again will we allow this to be sacrificed? transparency is probably the best answer. the best way of making sure relationships are appropriate is for everyone to see how often we meet.
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>> the prime minister has repeatedly emphasized that he has no evidence of any complaints are questions about the concept of coulson. will the prime minister confirm that a year ago when he was the director of communications that the secretary was alerted to evidence of illegal phone hacking a media briefing directed against a senior official in the government service tax what was taken to investigate? >> active a closely. where he did work there, as have this communication, there is no complaint about the way he did his job.
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i take responsibility for employing him. i take responsibility for that decision. i lay out what i have thought of that. in my defense is the time be spent. he did not behave in a way that anyone thought was inappropriate. the decision was to employ him. the thought this was a misjudgment. >> many others have been in touch.
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>> the honorable lady is right. they want is to get on with the other issues. we need the economy to grow. they want to see reforms. they want is to keep us in perspective. >> the prime minister is absolutely right. he was to get to the bottom of the issues. all the parties are consulted. >> we take very seriously about the increase. >> we did consult the administration. >> they clashed with points made
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by other facilities. we will see a covers all of the ground. >> have you ensured there are no alternatives at the bbc? >> we come onto the issue of plurality and the power of media owners when we discuss this. it is important not to leave the bbc out of that entirely. it is a huge part of the media.
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you want to make sure that no media group is to powerful. >> i thank you for telling us that he will answer all questions. but to go back to the article in the new york times. he told us that no information could make him change his mind. could he tell us who brought it to his attention? who did he discuss it with? >> this article was discussed and debated in a written about. let me be clear. this is important. all the way through the employment, there were questions about his resignation.
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i gave myself a very simple test. if anyone knew about packing, i would have fired him. if i knew that he had known about it, and would not have hired him in the first place. i tried to be extremely clear about this. their responsibility is mine. he does not work at no. 10 any more. the only person has been stuck there. >> thank you. could the prime minister just say whether or not any conversations he had was mentioned. >> i had no response ability. i specifically asked to be taken out of any of the decision making. i did not want to put myself in any sort of compromising
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position. i didn't even know when many of the key announcements are being made. rebekah brooks was able to say there is not a single conversation that could take in place. many were hoping for some great allegation. >> in the conversations he had, the questions of the takeover was mentioned? >> the point i am trying to make is this. i had no responsibility for the takeover. i specifically asked to be taken out of any of the decision making and the information because i did not want to put myself in any compromising position. i was very clear about that. i did not know any of the key announcements are being made. that is why rebekah brooks was able to say that there was not a simple conversation that could not have taken place in front of the committee. some people were hoping for some great allegation yesterday that could add to their conspiracy theories. i am disappointed for them that they did not get one. >> as police minister, my experience was that they did not give you any operational information, but they did tell you things that you needed to know. senior police officers would
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understand that perfectly. does he really want to be kept in the dark? was he angry? as the minister, i would be livid if officials were keeping information from me. did the prime minister want to be kept in the dark? >> of course, i have very regular meetings with senior leaders of the metropolitan police service. the key issue about my chief of staff's e-mail is that since reading it, the head of the home affairs committee has done that was the right of judgment. the offer was quite rightly rejected. >> this house, the media, and the whole country have been focused on this issue. is the prime minister aware that aid agencies are reporting the lack of public awareness of the
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humanitarian crisis in somalia? can you convince me that you will spend time looking at those issues? >> the message is extremely serious. whatever her feeling about this, this can not mutate into a general exchange. >> i thought it was ingenious to get back that point into order. she is making a very important point. it was one of the reasons why i did not want to cancel my visit to africa. it is important that we get on with doing things that britain should be doing in the world. whether that is trading with countries like nigeria or leading the aid effort in the horn of africa where we had been told is not just catastrophe, it is also a famine.
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>> mr. speaker, yesterday rupert murdoch was asked about his secret meetings with the prime minister and his government. he replied, i wish they would leave me alone. >> one of the outcomes is that there will be a lot more of leave everybody alone. >> in the investigation, the information commissioner found 861 personnel information transactions which were possibly identified as coming from 89 newspaper journalists. can the prime minister confirm that the inquiry that he has announced will be able to look into the unlawful practices going on at mirror group
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newspapers? >> i think the gentleman makes an important point. what we should not believe automatically that these practices were spread right across the media, it would be naive to think they were restricted to one newspaper or one newspaper group. when you look at evidence, it is clear that they went wider. this investigation must go where the evidence leads. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the avoidance of any doubt, can the prime minister state whether this does extend to scotland, too? does include the issues such as policing that have evolved in scotland? >> it does extend it to scotland. we were able to accept a number of points. there was one specific point that the scottish administration wanted dealt with.
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it concerned the information commissioner's report. it will be dealt with by the inquiry because it is such an important part of the work. when it comes to the relationship between politicians and media, this inquiry will be able to go where the evidence leads. >> there were allegations against some offices and the metropolitan police. protecting us and doing a wonderful job and should not be smeared by this? >> that's an incredibly important point police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. and while, of course, we have to
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get to the bottom of what went wrong in the met, we shouldn't allow that to undermine the public confidence the people have in the bobby on the beat and the fantastic job they do for us. >> mr. richard burton. >> in response from the question from my right honorable friend, the prime minister said if he was given credible information regarding andy coulson, he would have done something about it. so will he now answer my question from my right honorable friend when he received that letter in october, what did he do? >> the answer that all the information that came out while andy coulson was working at number 10 downing street there was a permanent conversation, if you like, about was this new evidence that he knew about phone hacking? if it was, he would have to go. if it wasn't, he wouldn't. that is the key point but in the end, let me just answer this way, in the end because there were so many allegations and because he wasn't able to get on with his job, he left. the second chance i gave him didn't work. now, we can go this a million times but in the end the
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decision to appoint him is mine for which i've taken full responsibility. the conduct that he had at the number 10 downing street is not something that's under question so i think it would be better if we spent our time working how we're going to clear up the illegality that's taken place. >> mr. speaker, there must be widespread across this house agreement that it's imperative that the police and the media start now to clear up their own mess and to that end, would the prime minister agree with me that it's time that police officers stop divalaging of arrest of people before they're charged and the press stop then printing those details and invariably engaging in a feeding frenzy that destroys somebody's reputation even though they haven't even been arrested? >> i know the honorable lady has experienced from before she came into politics and her work as a
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lawyer and in broadcasting what my home secretary has announced that elizabeth filkin is going to try to work out a better code of ethics including in relation to the media and the steps that they take. and i think this has opened up a whole conversation that perhaps in this country we put off for far too long. >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i return to the responses that the prime minister has given to the members for both areas. he said he hadn't had any appropriate discussions with news international executives regarding bskyb's bid. can i ask him which discussions he had with the said executives that he deemed were appropriate, and who the executives were and what the content of those discussions were? >> all these meetings are published. he can look on the internet and see every single meeting that i had and perhaps when he does that, he might ask his good friend the right honorable gentleman the leader of the option why he doesn't do the same thing. >> thank you. thank you, mr. speaker.
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the prime minister was right to recall parliament and is also right to be concentrating on the immediate questions being asked. but will he ensure that the government commits to ensuring this does not happen again? part of this involves looking at the companies of 2006 'cause it seems absurd that we quite rightly have a crime of corporate manslaughter and direct a company where there has been complicit sanctuary currently facing those sanctions. >> i think there are some lessons to be learned for competition policy, for media policy and i'm sure we'll be debating those later on and i'll have some contributions to make on that. >> emma reynolds. >> thank you, mr. speaker. in her evidence yesterday, rebecca brooks stated that it was the chancellor's idea to employ andy coulson. was she right or was she merely trying to protect her prime minister? >> the decision was mine.
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in politics in the end the buck stops here with the prime minister. i made the decision. i defend the decision and i give it a very full explanation about it today. >> mr. edward lee. >> is there not a real danger that this scandal will follow so many others. first of all, bad behavior. then moral outrage, a lot of it hypocritical then lengthy judicial inquiries then more state regulation under the guise of independent regulation so would my right honorable friend commit himself today to the good old conservative values of individual liberty and freedom? >> i would be delighted to do that. and i do think the right honorable gentleman do make a good point and that's why on the panel i was very concerned to make sure you have people who really understand how the television works, how newspapers work, how regulation works and i think, for instance, the fact that george jones who spent many years in the lobby of this place is going to be on that panel of experts will help the committee inquiry to do its work. >> helen goodman?
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>> thank you, mr. speaker. i asked the prime minister whether -- in the standard contract will he now answer the question? >> it was vetted. he had a baseball level of investigate he wasn't able to see the most secret documents in the governments. it was all done in the proper way. he was subject to the special advisors code of conduct as someone shouted from behind me,o obeyed that code of conduct unlike damien mcbride. >> mr. speaker, there's been lots of talk of freedom and freedom has to be under the law. will my right honorable friend assure me that any future regulation of the press will balance the interests of ordinary men and women against the legitimate interest of maintaining a free press in this country?
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>> of course, i give that assurance. i think one of the things that the committee of inquiry will have to battle with is that if you look at some of the great investigative stories that have bust open scandals in the past, my honorable friend is a lawyer and he will know about this. that's one of the reasons we asked this inquiry to do that very difficult work. >> mr. jeremy corbin. >> will the prime minister have another opportunity to say on what occasion where during the he became prime minister he's ever discussed the murdoch bid to take over bskyb? >> the discussion i had was to make sure i wasn't involved in this decision so i didn't discuss it with the culture secretary. i didn't know about the timing about many of the key announcements. i wasn't involved. that was the sensible thing to do. conduct that not necessarily was engaged in by my predecessors. >> the former prime minister said he wanted -- said that he
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wanted to hold an inquiry into phone hacking and journalistic practices but he has an astonishing claims that the civil servants have stopped him to do so who told him fought to sell our gold at record low prices can the prime minister tell me feinherited any plans from the former government on this inquiry? >> all i can say is the idea the former prime minister had to have this inquire never was raised with the opposition. and one of the things i saw in the press over the last couple days is one of his former colleagues thought that it was a proposal that gordon made to himself. >> to -- [laughter] >> order, order! the exchanges won't continue until we have order. it's pretty straightforward. >> to hire the hackers of millie doweler meant that andy cowellson was either guilty of
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being complicit in a corrupt culture or that he presided acts of pure evil. what were the warnings given to the prime minister by the deputy prime minister and the lord ashdown not to appoint andy coulson and why did he ignore those warnings? >> i have to say to the honorable gentleman, we do still have in this country the idea that you are innocent until you are proven guilty. now, as i've said, i hired andy coulson on the basis of assurances that he gave me he did not know about hacking. after all, that is why he resigned as editor of the "news of the world." and incidentally, after he resigned, the very first person to ring him up and wish him well who was who? gordon brown. >> in her evidence to the select committee yesterday rebecca brooks spoke about the number of times she visited that number 10 or checkers up to six times a year. does the perform not agree the
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calls for the other side of transparency sit very badly with the collective with the contacts of labour and news international? >> the point i would make we've all got to be open about the fact that both front benches spend a lot of time according to rupert murdoch, according to news international according to the russian who owns the independent and the daily mail and the bbc. everybody has done it. and we've all got to admit that this sort of relationship needs to be changed and put on a more healthy basis. now, we're prepared to admit it. that basically if you like the clock has stopped on my watch. and i'm determined to sort it out. now, from a sedentary position, from a sedentary position the shadow chancellor said you did not hire andy coulson. look, you hired damien mcbride. you had alistar campbell falsifying documents in government. you still got tom baldwin working in your office.
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gotcha! >> order! order! can i just remind the house that i've not been hiring people at all. mr. john cryer. >> thank you, mr. speaker. >> order! order! the house will listen to mr. john cryer. >> thank you, mr. speaker. on july the 8th the prime minister said that he commissioned a company to do a basic background check on coulson. now, for the fourth time i'm asking for the name of the company. it's a pretty simple question. just come to the dispatch box and name the company. >> we did hire a company to do a basic background check and that is an entirely appropriate thing to do. and it's an entirely appropriate report but i have to say the reason i hired him was above all
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the assurances that he gave me. that is the key part of the decision and that's what i'm prepared to say. >> mr. gary streeter. >> mr. speaker, can i thank my right honorable friend for a swift and decisive action in setting up these inquiries which will get to the bottom of these very serious issues. but looking forward, can i also add my voice to those encouraging him not to be overly distracted of this over the next few months but focus instead on the things that my constituents are concerned about the economy, the jobs and the reform of house services and the contagion in europe? >> my honorable friend is entirely right. we have to sort this issue out. it takes cross-party agreement to do it. we've worked well over the judicial inquiry, over the panel, over the terms of reference over the police inquiry all things the government has taken action on but we do want to get on the issues about which our constituents care about so much. >> will the prime minister immediately put on hold his plans to have elected police
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commissioners while we learn the lessons of the last few weeks because we should focus on the things that's swept under the carpet and some of the political fortitudes is on the full charge to hold them accountable. >> one of the things this whole episode shows our police service needs reform and the idea of greater accountability with them having to account to someone who can stand up for local people is a thoroughly good idea. >> dr. julian hopper. >> the home affairs select committee was told about failure incompetence of the met. our former police witnesses passed responsibility up and down the chain. there was lack of clarity about who made decisions. we were told it was t-happens all the time that somebody can get a job based on an email cv straight to the director of human resources. will the prime minister ensure we look at this massive failure of corporate governance in the
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metropolitan police? >> i'm sure the inquiry will look at that but indeed i think you'll find the ipcc will be looking at that specific issue concerning john yates even before the inquiry gets underway. >> will the prime minister confirm what the metropolitan police will tell the home secretary news international only cooperating in january 2011 shortly after mr. coulson resigned from number 10 downing street and keeping him in post for so long. of>> the metropolitan police made that very clear for the home affairs select question what i would say is what i said all along the police should pursue this without fear or favor. they should go where the evidence leads. they should arrest whoever they choose. they couldn't have a clearer message or more support from the government. >> thank you, mr. speaker. today is the anniversary of the -- >> order. the honorable lady -- why do they call the oooh for the
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honorable advice. a very extraordinary choice of response. i want to hear the honorable lady. >> i agree, mr. speaker. [laughter] >> today people will know is the anniversary of the moon landing around which conspiracy theorists like to fluster. may i urge the prime minister rather than listening to the vapid conspiracy hack-gate theorists he focus on the facts. committee tell us what he's doing to toughen up the rules around the use of checkers to make sure it's never used for slumber parties for media tycoons again? >> i could see the development of a beautiful relationship here just for a brief moment. if it's perfectly all right i don't rule out my children having slumber parties if that is acceptable to the honorable lady but i promise to leave rebecca wade out of it. >> i want to ask the prime minister on a question
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previously given to him by the right honorable gentleman for my right honorable friend from greenwi greenwich. in the last year has he been briefed from the intelligence about the phone hacking and surveillance of a senior public servant? handmade that briefing and will the intelligence services be requested to give evidence to the inquiry? >> we don't discuss intelligence issues in this house. if he has something he wants to come and talk to me about this issue, he could beat a path to my door and i'll see him. >> mr. speaker, can the prime minister clarify and confirm that the law on media ownership was watered down under the 2003 communications act which for the first time allowed non-eea companies to own u.k. radio and television? >> he makes a very important point when a lot of the sound of fury comes from the party opposite, there was a progressive liberalization of media ownership delivered under the last government and they should do well to remember it. >> kerry mccarthy.
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>> the prime minister has a number of times brushed off questions about my honorable friend the member of my letter from him and did he see that letter and what did he do about it and if he didn't see it, committee go back to do you think street and see what else is about it. >> i will do exactly as the honorable lady says i will make sure a robust reply soon. >> may i ask the prime minister did he receive any advice from the editor of the guardian from lord ashdown or from the deputy prime minister about the hiring of tom ballwin by the leader of option. >> i have received quite a number of representations from honorable members and quite a few from others as well. >> mr. barry gardener. >> i welcome the prime minister's transparency in making available the 26 meetings with news corp and news international. i welcome the fact that he was able to say that no inappropriate conversations took
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place between him and bskyb. committee tell us that no appropriate conversations about the bid took place at those meetings also? >> all my conversations are appropriate. [laughter] >> mr. greg hands? >> is the prime minister aware that under the 2005 inquiries act and contrary to the evidence given by his predecessor, it is actually under the terms of the act that the job of a minister to cause an inquiry not the cabinet secretary? >> yes. i believe that my honorable friend is right and it does go to the point about the speech made last week by the former prime minister. in the end, ministers have the responsibility to make these decisions. and i don't think it's particularly noble to try to hide behind them and blame your civil servants. >> in his statement the prime minister told us that neil wallace formally deputy editor at "news of the world" wasn't
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employed or paid by the conservative party but it has transpired he's been advising andy coulson at least in the run-up of the general election. has the prime minister made any inquiries of the exact nature of that advice? >> he i wouldn't, i have. as the honorable gentleman i wasn't told by. he wasn't contracted by and he wasn't paid by but he did offer some informal advice. the reason this information has come out is because we put it out and we will be equally transparent when we get to the bottom of this. >> thank you, mr. speaker. my constituents feel that relationships between news international and politicians have been too close for many years but they are very shocked with the association by the police but can the prime minister ensure the house that the remit of the independent review i congratulate him on setting up will include guidance on preserving the freedom of the press to undertake the investigative journalism which has long been a good tradition
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in this country? >> i can reassure about that. the terms of reference do refer to the importance of a free press and i think the panel when you think of having people like george jones, like eleanor goodman like a former press regulator someone who has chaired the ft i think it's a good mixture of experts to help advise justice levinson to make sear we get the balance right. ..
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>> are one to the hon. lady to not use terms like that. hired judge people by the conduct of the work they do for me. i would put mr. coulson's conduct against the conduct of damian mcbride and all the rest of it who did so much damage under the last government. >> i would like to accommodate many more colleagues on this important subject but in order to do so, mr. william cash. [laughter] >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister has referred several times to the future of regulation of the media, not
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just the press, in terms of excellence we have been told about, he says the inquiry should not just look at a press but other media organizations including broadcast if there is any evidence they are involved in criminal activities. does this preclude what the committee chairman and others have called for, extension of the terms of reference to deal with regulation of all the me and not merely the press? >> i will say to the hon. gentleman the change is a direct response to the committee chairman because we wanted to listen to their views and say broadcast and other social media could be included if there was evidence of wrongdoing. we are not trying to have an inquiry that get so wide it can't make progress on these issues but we listened to what he said and responded positively.
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>> will the prime minister publish any e-mails in the home office? >> i am looking at being as transparent as we can. we don't just have the freedom of information act where you can make requests. this government is pushing a huge amount of data including publishing recent e-mails. >> the prime minister has rightly published the names of people -- it doesn't include rupert murdoch and rebekah brooks but other journalists. given what he said about the government getting too close to the media, mrs. bonet was wondering -- [laughter] -- >> whether those visits would stop. understand -- [laughter] -- as long as she doesn't insist on a
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slumber party, that is a very good idea. >> mr. speaker, can i just -- ask the prime minister what the deputy prime minister told him about mr. coulson? >> the point was made by number of people, deputy prime minister was asked if it was right to give the job to mr. coulson. i'm made a decision. this man had resigned from the "news of the world" over the hacking scandal because it happened on his watch. hold on. island to the question. he gave the assurance he didn't know about it and i took that decision and it is a judgment i don't hide from and don't run away from and are am totally accountable for it. some people question that judgment on which the deputy prime minister -- that is why i have been so clear this is my decision that i am responsible
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for end people hold me accountable. i have been utterly frank about 20/20 hindsight or double vision but i don't believe in politicians running away from the decisions they make. i don't do that. >> the prime minister will have little time to consider my question which relates to stopping the scandal to undertake criminal activity. however he has widened the stakes to cover all courses. there are a number of people who would like to come forward. could he be assured that no one gets wrongdoing and able to keep any payout or bonus from retiring or taking it to another? >> what the hon. lady says makes sense. she should make those recommendations to the windsor review and the british inquiry as well. >> in reply to an earlier
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question the prime minister said the relationship between politicians and the media meant the important issue of media regulation was put on the back burner. why does he think putting a politically elected commissioner in charge of every police force doesn't mean that similarly difficult questions will be avoided in the future? >> i don't see this at all because the elected police commissioner will want to respond to the demand of the public for affective accountable policeing. there will be if you like some tension between the elected commissioner and the chief constable and as long as there is operational independence that could be a good thing. >> graham stuart. >> will the prime minister and shore the inquiry announced into the a malpractice in media cover the allegation made by --
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baldwin and news international journalists authorized part of the effort unlawfully to access the conservative party bank accounts? >> i am sure the inquiry can look at this if there is evidence of illegal activity than big questions have to be answered and i am sure the leader of the opposition will ask those questions and make sure -- >> were there any meetings between neil wallace and mr. coulson when he was working for the prime minister at number 10 downing street? >> i don't have that information. far worse for me to give an answer that could turn out to be inaccurate. i will get back to you with that information. >> members on this side are right. want as to move on from excessive focus on this issue but are ask the prime minister how he is able to end the practice of journalism regularly paying police officers for a quick scooped? >> we need to do a number of
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things. the police investigation into corruption which is overseen by someone on the outside and work to improve the ethics and standards but also there will be the inquiry which will do a job of working on this on the panel of the former chief constable, understanding how the police service works and we can deal with this problem. >> i feel confident in the police being affected by allegations of bribery of police officers. will the prime minister look at whether there is a need to establish an independent police force that can police the police and will he give a guarantee the bribery act would not be amended by the inquiry is going on? >> on the first point we have the independent police complaints commission which is independent of the police. there are two questions.
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firstly want to make sure the resources and ability to investigate the police and secondly we have to look at whether we are swift enough at calling in and outside police force when there is evidence or allegations of wrongdoing so people can see this being done effectively. >> brandon louis. >> last week we heard a speech from gordon brown outlining concerns on hacking and inquiry yet yesterday we heard evidence the select committee that he never raised the subject despite the close relationship with rupert murdoch. could we reconcile those two issues? >> i am afraid i can't but the evidence speaks for itself. >> when members refer to other members they should richard -- refer to their constituents and not by name. >> when prime minister was leader of the opposition, was phone hacking discussed in any of the meetings? >> i had a range of meetings
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with john yates mostly about terrorism. i don't recall every single conversation i had and you would be mad to pretend you do. you would be superhuman to remember every conversation you have. almost all the conversations i had with john yates over the last year have been over terrorist issues and the key point about my chief of staff's e-mail is he was trying to make sure the police didn't do anything inappropriate. >> i welcome my right hon. friend's statement to investigate this event. will you agree with me that these issues for the metropolitan police dealt with speedily so hard working and effective police get out the maximum affect and the job they do fantastically well for all of us. >> that is hugely important. there are thousands of police officers doing a great job in london. they will be reading about this. i emma very clear message that we still have a very fine police
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service in this country and we back it. >> can the prime minister confirm whether any of his officials on downing street knew that neil wallace advised before the general election? >> all i can say is the first i was told of this to my knowledge was sunday evening, nil wallace wasn't employed or contract or paid by the conservative party but did some work for mr coulson. as we get to the bottom of that work, we will put that information on the record. it is very important when you ask these questions there is no conspiracy theory. to give accurate answers to these questions. >> tom brady. >> select committee hearings were heavy on entertainment but light when it came to hard facts. does inclusiveness not point to the urgent inquiries we
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establish they should be hard-hitting, wide ranging and look at all aspects of the phone hacking scandal, corruption, nepotism and the obsequious relationship between the press, the police and politicians. >> that is the reason for setting up this inquiry to get to the bottom of this information. to be fair i think they did make some good progress discovering some important evidence about all relationships and the evidence we are discussing today. >> would the prime minister confirmed it is unusual for a senior adviser to the prime minister not to be properly vented? will he confirm it was his decision not to flee that mr. coulson including -- including pastor activities? >> it was an unusual level. mr. coulson was cleared in the normal way special advisers are.
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he was cleared -- he was not sent papers above this level and like former administrations we send all the names of the staff. we employed special advisers. i feel some members are looking for a secret behind a curtain. it simply isn't there. >> when it comes to restoring public confidence, will you agree the steps he outlined today show he made more progress on this in 13 months than the last government did in 30 years. >> of very important point. they had plenty of opportunities over 13 years to shadow chancellor and to shadowed the leader of the opposition all the way through. they could have promoted the judicial inquiry and responded to the select committee and could have done something about the information reports. they were the slumber party. that is what they were.
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>> can the prime minister give the house a categorical assurance that mr. coulson never saw any briefings in to the police investigation into hacking or had any involvement in the government responds to it? >> the point i made is it is not routine for people on downing street to be given operational information about a police investigation. that is the whole thing my chief of staff was rightly trying to prevent. let me take the hon. lady back to the time when tony blair was prime minister and there were investigation -- just imagine if the police have started briefing officials with operational intelligence. it would have been an appalling thing and i don't see that. >> can i congratulate my right
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hon. friend on the leadership. such a wide ranging and robust inquiry. why he thinks following the announcement investigation which revealed details of 305 journalists at 30 newspapers and magazines a similar inquiry would not establish banks. >> we have to be frank. the last government wasn't on this at all. frankly the last opposition leaders and we should have done more but they do have to take some responsibility for repeated warnings and ignoring those warnings. i take my responsibility -- every time i mention this i talk about the failing of the opposition to do its job but once in awhile it would be nice to hear a back squeak of responsibility. >> mr. speaker, the prime
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minister -- the prime minister has said that neil wallace -- wallis was never confirmed by the conservative party. can you confirm that he never received any payment for individuals or organizations working on behalf of the conservative party? >> i said the conservative party didn't employ him or have a contract with him or pay him. he did do some informal work for mr coulson. the reason we know that is we announced it before the house of commons went down. we wanted to get this information out and when we get to the bottom of the work he did not like the complete lack of transparency and the party opposite we make that detail available. >> the recent remarks from the lord -- ward cit note that as a result of this inquiry politicians can impose what he called balance on the media. does he share my view that that is very dangerous?
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>> we want a free and vigorous press. sometimes it is infuriating but the idea of having equal coverage given to every point of view would kill the vibrancy of the press and respect him as i do if we had equal coverage the papers would take a lot longer to read every morning. >> [talking over each other] >> did the prime minister take the opportunity to talk to him about the phone hacking allegations and what his reasons were? >> he felt he was not able to go on doing his job of reallocations fuss and swirl of information and that was the right decision. i have been clear about my reasons for hiring him and the work he did.
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i revealed he stayed at checkers. you don't have to reveal private guess you pay for yourself. i have done that because i want to be transparent about my relationship and my decisions and judgments. i am happy to stand on those judgments and let people be the judge. that is the only thing you can do in this job. >> to you share my frustration? we have been here for the best part of two hours and have we heard from the members of the state any recognition of their part to play? [shouting] >> the hon. lady is right. the opposition came in with a choice. they could have risen to the level of events and dealt with the problem and responded to what our constituents care
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about. instead we have a litany of pathetic conspiracy theories to win a political game and it has been a complete failure. >> how have stevenson and john yates for mr. coulson's second chance? >> if you look of the evidence respect him enormously and he did some good things and john yates. stevenson said yesterday the circumstances surrounding his organization was different from the circumstances in number 10 downing street. we discussed this a lot today. the responsibility i have for hiring mr. coulson and the fact that he is not there anymore. that i would argue is completely different to the issues about a failed police investigation and allegations of police corruption and serious problems and the reasons paul stevens and set out yesterday. i respect what he did but he
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says the situation there different. >> the prime minister has shown in his statement that his private office -- absolutely compelling propriety which compares favorably -- i wonder if the prime minister would agree with me that it is broadly synthetic and -- >> what i would say -- and members opposite know that this is someone who served our country working whether it was for chris patton or patti action in kosovo and hong kong. he is a conservative supporter and friend of mine but a loyal public servant who has done great things for this country. on this occasion as so many his
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judgment was proved absolutely right. >> prime minister, can you tell us what specific advice the deputy prime minister gave you against employee and mr. coulson? >> i can set the answer to music. some people look at mr. coulson and the fact that he was a tabloid editor at the "news of the world" and resigned because of what happened some people advised me not to take him on. i made a decision on the basis of the assurances he gave me. i couldn't have been more frank about it. there's only now one tabloid editor left in the office of the prime minister or the leader of the opposition. a tabloid mirror editor and i wouldn't be surprised if they don't have questions. >> does the prime minister think
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the leader of the opposition should apologize for damian mcbride? >> the chancellor -- we did get finally although it took a while an apology. this was someone who was a special adviser who was sitting around casting accusations against people on the opposition front and when you compare that conduct with the conduct of mr. coulson who in his time at work -- it speaks volumes. >> did the prime minister when he was leader of the opposition discuss with john yates the issue of phone hacking? >> i can't remember every conversation i ever had with john yates. i did meet john yates in a position. i cannot remember how many times. i met him many more times in government and predominantly a discussed with him the issue of
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terrorism. >> will the prime minister agree one of the biggest episodes would it death of david kelly who was thrown to the media under intolerable pressure and led to his suicide. the investigation will be -- looked back at how that event unfolded? >> the point i make is we have to be careful this inquiry doesn't go completely viral. it has to focus on the issue at hand. the issue of david kelly is it looked at details in terms of the inquiry and this inquiry has got to make progress. >> last week i read in the daily mail the prime minister was about -- after an intervention by rebekah brooks he changed his mind and employed coulson. is that right? >> she specifically rejected
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that point yesterday. my good friend and colleague the mayor of london doesn't brilliant job. >> i have a question about the conduct of mr. coulson. did he ever suggest smearing members of the opposition when working at number 10 like damian mcbride was so impressed by the former occupant of number 10? >> powerful point that will be noted. >> will the prime minister agree we need to move on? not least because we want to watch without distraction the collapse of the euro and would he agree -- would he agree that if we are going to move on he is not to be a bet more frank and answering directly questions such as those --
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>> first of all leaders the lie applaud the hon. gentleman's enthusiasm but we recognize 40% of our exports if there is turmoil in the euro zone it won't be good for britain. we should be clear about that and be helpful and cooperative with our european partners to sort out their problems. i don't think i could give clearer answers to all the questions people have asked in this house and i know a lot of members came in this active in trying to find some conspiracy theory and have found one. >> yesterday liberal democrat colleagues questioned witnesses in terms of willful blindness. does the prime minister agree those in charge are responsible for free press should not get away with a willful blindness defense, but major responsibility for its act? >> there is no defense like that. what will happen now is there is going to be a police investigation under way that
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will ask who was culpable and who knew what when and after that is over the second stage of the judicial inquiry will go over that again not requiring the bar approval prosecution and maybe then we get the real evidence of who knew what when but we couldn't have tougher processes to get the answer people want. >> will the prime minister define what he regards as an appropriate conversation between him and -- >> i thought rebekah brooks define did excellently. one that you could repeat in front of the select committee. >> i brought my copy. in response to your comments you are not hiring anyone -- you did hire tim hayes who was the journalists of the times by news international but to the substance of my question, to the substance of my question the prime minister is right to say
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we should get to the bottom of this because ordinary people care but ordinary people also care and will be affected by what is happening in the euro zone. can the prime minister -- can the prime minister let us know the same amount of time we are dedicated to this, a conspiracy theory from the other side of the house. [talking over each other] >> the hon. gentleman has been extremely brave. parliament is going down for six weeks, long enough to forget what he said. he is right that we should be focusing on what is happening in the euro zone. we are holding a series of meetings to make sure we get our response right. >> in stanford, the scandal was
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just a little difficult which is why it was ok for the prime minister to leave the country at the height of the crisis. >> i didn't watch news night. i don't always catch it but i think it is important to british prime minister stand up for british business. and gets around world as i have done to china and india and africa and to suggest that because there are issues you have to answer a home you should cancel a trip like that and the opposition should be better than that. >> the select committees -- in 2003, on a catalog of the global traction in the media of potential payments made by journalists to the police. the investigation has announced will we understand the advice the committee would ignore?
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>> i am sure judicially inquiry will do that. one of the issues it is looking at is the relationship between politicians in the me and the conduct. >> if the prime minister had the new information about mr. coulson given by the guardian would he have gone ahead with the appointment? he should have passed that information. >> the point is this. if i have been told proper evidence that mr. coulson knew about hacking i would not have hired him. i couldn't be clear about this. ..
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>> thank you, mr. speaker. the previous -- or the prime minister's predecessor the honorable member said that he wanted to hold a public inquiry into this matter. >> no. >> did the prime minister tell the house on taking office what detailed preparations were left behind for him in number 10 on this very important issue?
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>> just like everything else, i found a complete mess. >> with regard of andy coulson of andy wallace in the election the prime minister said he would be transparent when he got to the bottom of that. will that inquiry be independent and why can't he publish today any documents relating to the use of mr. wallace? >> the point i'm making i want to get to the bottom to the question he asked what advice gave mr. wallace gave to mr. coulson. when i find it i will reveal it. perhaps he will take the time why he won't reveal his media contacts going back to the election. i've been much more transparent than the party opposite. >> angie bray.
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angie bray. >> the right honorable member, would he not agree that it doesn't necessarily and for the statement of the house next week when he said he had never done anything to further news international interests? >> well, i do think -- there is quite a contrast when we put it like this between the speech last week and the evidence we heard. >> thank you, mr. speaker. if the prime minister point blank refuses to tell this house the name of the company that vetted andy coulson, will he place the documents with regard to that investigate in the library of his house? >> the responsibility for hiring him is mine and mine alone. that is the responsibility i take. you might not like the answer but that's it. >> thank you, mr. speaker. and like many other members i'm sure i've been contacted by local newspapers who are
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concerned about the prospects of new regulation at a time of increasing pressure on their circulation. can my right honorable friend assure them that new regulations will not be overly heavy-handed on local press? >> the honorable gentleman makes a good point. we don't want a regulatory system to punish the innocent as it were to provide good local newspapers but there are problems with ethics and issues that need to be looked at. we need to make sure that it's proportionate. >> mr. wayne david? >> in the "new york times" article of september of last year, it is stated that -- and i quote one former editor says coulson was talking freely to colleagues. how can he say he had no evidence between a link between coulson and haddock. >> i discussed these allegations at the time. there was not proper foundation for them. and that is -- and that is the view not just of me but those who follow that issue. look, of course, there is an investigation underway and i couldn't be franker if it turns out that andy doleson knew about
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hacking, it won't be a matter of profound regret and a matter of profound apology and the apology i've given today. it will also be an issue for criminal prosecution. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister has rightly taken the lead in openness and transparency would he now encourage the opposition to do likewise and open the vaults what happened under their watch in particularly of damien wallace and the culture of what happened. >> we have set out all the contacts we have and it's for others to follow suit not just former labour leaders but current labour leaders as well. >> the company that had the vetting of andy coulson, committee confirm that the company or any of his directors did not make any donations to the conservative party? >> i'll right the honorable gentleman i don't want to give an answer that's not accurate. >> nigel mills? >> thank you, mr. speaker. after a decade of spin i welcome the prime minister's attempt to sort out the relationship
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between politicians and the media for the long term and not just manage the news cycle. would he women the governments have all their spin doctors so we can be truly rid of that spin culture. >> i think my honorable friend makes a good point that there's an enormous amount of money spent by local authorities by local newspapers on their own free local newspapers and that is interest to the newspaper injury and there's a strong culture recognizing the importance of a strong regional and local newspaper industry. >> angela smith. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the "new york times" last september said that the reporter he had spoken to was one of two people who said coulson was present during discussions about phone hacking. did the prime minister discuss the allegation of andy coulson, and if not, why not? >> as i said i had a number of conversations all the time during his employment and in the end the swirl allegations is why he left but what we have now is
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not only a criminal investigation where people are being interviewed by the police and the police can go without fear or favor but also a public inquiry. that none of these things happened properly under the last government they're happening now and no one will be immune from it. >> may i just remind members that as a basic courtesy trying to catch my eye should not be fiddling with their electronic devices. i thought it was a major of courtesy but i guess not. >> mr. speaker, can i ask the prime minister whether he will ensure that the activities of damien mcbride, the king of smears and spin under labour will also form part of the investigation that he undertakes? >> they don't like hearing it on party opposite because they had people working on downing street
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that is absolutely despicable and that's a contrast they can't avoid. >> the prime minister seems to say his appointment of andy coulson was a success. it's been made absolutely clear that that appointment a fundamental obvious to everyone that the prime minister made a major of error of the appointment -- >> order, order, order. the questions are becoming longer and longer. the prime minister? >> check the transcript of what paul stevenson and john yates said yesterday and they think everyone behaved entirely
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appropriate as do i and as do the person sitting next to him too. >> there were two report about the risks of phone hacking. for the sake of the victims does the prime minister regret that no action was taken at that time? >> i think it is a matter of regret and, frankly, both front benches has got to accept this that warnings from the information commissioner from the select commissioners weren't heeded and we have to recognize that there were issues around relations with media groups that made that happen and we got to get to the bottom how we stop that from happening again and i hope we can address that in the debate. >> is the prime minister tell the house details of any appropriate conversations he had relating to the bskyb bid specifically with rebecca brooks and james murdoch on the 27th on december and rebecca brooks of 2010. >> what i've done is set out all of the details of the meetings and explain that all of the conversations were appropriate something backed by rebecca brooks yesterday. now, if she wants to help with this issue, she can ask the leader of her party to be equally transparent because he's not being transparent. >> thank you, mr. speaker. following on from my honorable friends from apple valley, did
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the prime minister join me in hoping that this is the end of the ever increasing rise of the press officer that's being paid for by police constabularies across the country. >> i would be a little bit careful about this. the police have to have an operation -- they have to have a relationship with the media both at the top level to communicate what the police is trying to do strategically and at the operational level. they've got to work with the local press to help beat crime so there is if you like an appropriate relationship they should have. we got to make sure they don't have an inappropriate relationship. >> the prime minister, have you ever mentioned the word of bskyb in the presence of rebecca brooks, rupert murdoch and james murdoch? >> you know, ah! >> mr. matthew hancock. >> thank you very much, mr. speaker. doesn't it raise serious questions about how the previous
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government operated that members opposite think it would be appropriate for the prime minister to be briefed on operational police matters. and don't the emails that were released show just what a professional his chief of staff is. >> the judgment he reached was backed in advance by the permanent secretary at number 10 and has been subsequently backed by the leading police officers and indeed by the head of the home affairs select committee. >> andrew miller, returning to neil wallace, clearly, the prime minister said it was only sunday that he knew about mr. wallace's role. but others around him knew of mr. wallace's role well before that. doesn't he feel that down then including by mr. coulson? >> the point i make to the best of your knowledge the first i knew was sunday. we are getting to the bottom of what this formal advice was and when we have information about that, just as we've been
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transparent about all the media meetings, all the meetings with the moguls, about everything else, we can then make that information available. and while he's doing that, he should have a word with his party leader and ask him to be equally transparent. >> eleanor lange. >> does the prime minister agree with me that the vast majority of the people in the country who political point-scoring of the westminster village that has been going on here. but that they will warmly welcome his setting up of the inquiries today will hope that
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the inquiries will get on with their work and that the prime minister will be able to get on with his work of improving the economy of this country and representing this country in the international field? >> i think the british public are very wisecontempt. i don't know whether it's the political expedient thing to do but to give an apology. >> earlier what i said is i'm extremely sorry and deeply regret this. and in 20/20 hindsight knowing everything subsequently happened and i wouldn't offered the job and to be fair to andy coulson he wouldn't have taken the job but what i don't believe politicians doing is somehow shuffle off their responsibility. look, i made this decision, i
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employed his decision. if it turns out he lied to me what happened before, that is an even deeper apology and deeper regret than i've expressed today. i'm telling you what i feel about this. how i act about a politicians about this. that's no more than you can do. >> jane ellison, the prime minister has challenged us all to deal with the consequences of these events and does he not agree with me that a good start if the opposition were a little bit more realistic about the extent of their own recent contacts with news international especially considering on the 22nd of april of this year the leader of the opposition in a feature length interview with a national newspaper said in response to a question about whether he could yet unveil his new policy said you will read it first in the sun. [laughter] >> that is -- that is if you like my point. we've all engaged in this activity. the public know we've all engaged in this activity and we should all be honest about the fact so we can try to move on.
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>> mr. speaker, was mrs. brooks lying yesterday when she said it was the chancellor's bright idea to hire andy coulson? >> the chancellor has many bright ideas and the chancellor and i discussed many things but in the end i never seek to shuffle off my responsibilities. this was my decision. i'm accountable for it. >> mr. speaker, one of the leader of the opposition charges in his statement was the reason the commissioner didn't tell the home secretary or the prime minister about the appointment of neil wallace because of the position of andy coulson. the right member said that when he was the home secretary he wasn't informed about that appointment. isn't that rather bad to leave it -- >> even from nigeria i was able to follow the home secretary's excellent statement where she made precisely this point referring to what the former home secretary has said. so i do think it rather blows away part of his very flimsy case. >> sheila gilmore. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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from the time i was elected to this house, i've had constituents contact me about the bskyb takeover and their concerns with it. in this early part of the year in particular about undertakings being -- given or offered from an organization which already proved to break its undertakings at any point did the prime minister talking about the possibility of undertakings being given with news international? >> i've answered this question. i basically took myself out of the whole decision-making process about bskyb. i think now having looked at what has happened, i would argue that the culture media and sports secretary of state has taken a series of absolutely correct decisions on the basis of the legal information that he received. >> thank you, mr. speaker, there are very few places in the where the leader of the free world would subject himself to
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questioning. one thing that does shame our democracy, though, is that there are elements of this house that seem to make political capital over the phone hacking of millie doweler. >> but as someone once famously once said, i'm enjoying. >> yeah, yeah. >> he's right. he is right to draw attention to the fact that at the heart of all this is the issue -- >> order! i've been enjoying listening to the questions and answers as well but i want to continue that enjoyment and to hear what the prime minister is saying. the prime minister. >> i want to make to the right honorable gentleman at the heart of this as we is that we must bear in mind the victims of phone hacking chief of which is the family of millie doweler. >> my knowledgel pickover one of my constituents in response -- is it fair to say --
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[inaudible] >> is it fair to say that local newspapers have not been so far implicated in this and we should welcome their campaigns, their journalism and we should support local press wherever they are? >> they play an absolutely vital role in the health of our local democracy and the health of our constituents and what i call the big society. clearly, the inquiry has to go wherever the evidence leads to all newspapers. but i think regional and local newspapers play a very important part of our country. >> glenn davis. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i believe that most members of this house will welcome and greatly support the inquiries that the prime minister have settled to get to the bottom of issues that have faced this government and previous governments. but will he emphasize the urgency with which we must get -- we must deal with these issues so that we can get back to dealing with all the other issues that are so important to our constituents? >> i think the honorable gentleman is right. we have to crack this. we have to deal with it. we have to do it in a way that restores public confidence but then we must get on the other things our constituents care
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about. >> given the importance of the bskyb decision to the balance of broadcasting in this country, why did the prime minister think it necessary to take himself outside of the decision-making process? >> i think -- i'm going to go further in a minute in my speech and suggest that it may be the case that we should take politicians out of all decisions about media mergers all together. but i was recognizing the fact that if you are the leader of a party, you are trying to win over newspapers and television and all the rest of it so the more you can take yourself out of decisions about future media structures are, frankly, better for all concerned and, frankly, i don't understand why he don't get that. >> bob stewart? >> thank you, mr. speaker. it's quite clear that relationships between our political leaders and leadership in the media are going to continue. and so, therefore, would my right honorable friend agree
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with me it's up to our political leaders and this house to get a system for dealing with this that's sound, proper, transparent and healthy as soon as we can? >> i agree with him and i'm going to address this directly in the speech i make in a moment. this is an opportunity to restart -- reset the clock and we should retake it. >> mr. speaker, can i ask the prime minister in all sincerity to disassociate himself from the comment from the member from northern hampton southwest. i can assure the prime minister despite the debates that are going on here, there's not one member on the opposition benches who is sitting to make political capital. >> listen to the question! listen to the question! >> can i ask the chancellor particular to pay attention to the last part of my remarks? >> listen! >> i can assure this chamber in the deepest sincerity there is
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not one person, i believe, in this chamber seeking to make political capital out of the phone hacking. i am simply disappointed that i'm not being heard. let me tell the prime minister directly, there is no one person who is willing -- >> order, i must ask the honorable lady to ask a single question in a sentence. >> will the prime minister disassociate himself from comments that allege that members on this side of the chamber are seeking to make political capital out of the phone hacking -- out of the phone hacking of millie doweler. >> i don't think question her motives but people can watch what's been said and they can form their own judgments. >> as a matter of public record and as part of the public inquiry will the prime minister ask russell dunnell to publish any record between meetings between numbers 10 and 11 downing street since the year
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2000. >> as tempting as it would be, under our system politicians in one government cannot order the publication of papers in another government, fascinating that might sometimes be. >> mr. michael ellis. >> the home affairs select committee issued a report at 5:00 this morning which was critical of police whose evidence yesterday and last week included, frankly, attempts to pass the buck to alleged wrongdoers for not cooperating with the police. would the prime minister agree with me that alleged wrongdoers often don't cooperate with the police and the police should follow the evidence where it takes them? >> the police must absolutely do that. they know that is what everyone in this house wants. they know it's what the country expects. they have a proper resourced police investigation. it's under new leadership and we all wish them well with what they're doing. >> mr. daniel kaczynski. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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one group of people who we have not discussed today are the hugely powerful trade union bosses, an extraordinary influence they have over the leader of the opposition. will this inquiry look into their contacts with rupert murdoch and his organizations? >> i think it's ingenious after 136 questions to come up with something entirely new and so i pay tribute to my honorable friend. i'm sure a judge will be able to look at all vested interests and the power that they wield in our country. >> i thank the prime minister and all members -- i was advised it was 138, but we'll settle for 136 members who have had the opportunity -- [laughter] >> to question the prime minister and i thank everyone for participating. we do want to move on -- order. we do want to move on to the debate. i think pretty speedily but i
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shall tend to ports of order. >> during his statement the prime minister said that alistar campbell had falsified government documents. i'm sure there's many people who would like to see the evidence for that. will the prime minister ask the mr. speaker that to be placed in the library of the house of commons library. >> the point the honorable gentleman raised that's important to him and possibly to others represents a continuation of the debate and we musn't use points of order for that purpose. >> mr. speaker, is it an order for a witness to answer a select committee as lord mcdonald dead d-yesterday when i asked how much he was paid for the news corporation and what he disclosed as role as dpp in the police inquiry? >> what would say to the herbal gentleman and this is the first i've heard this is witnesses before select committees should seek be as helpful as possible to committees and they have a
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general obligation to furnish those committees with answers to the best of their ability. i hope that answer is helpful to the honorable gentleman. >> the "new york times" revelations contained no new information but the police considered the information new enough to re-open their inquiries. would you care to correct the record? >> that too is a continuation of the debate for which i remind the house there will be full opportunity in the full debate that is about to follow. point of order -- i hope it is mr. dennis mcshane. >> so do i, sir. so do i. is it an order for any right honorable member to make a defamatory statement in a dispatch box? >> members should take responsibility for their own statements and, of course, members should not make
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defamatory statements about other members. but the right honorable gentleman is raising his point of order in the abstraction and, therefore, for me it becomes hypothetical and i think the speaker wisely doesn't seek to respond to hypothetical questions. point of order, i hope it's the last. mr. robert -- >> in your earlier remarks are reviewing the security given the instant essay will you ensure that the public continue to have the right to go to select committees and their right is not restricted? >> i'm grateful for the honorable gentleman for his point of order, that right to attend meetings in the way the honorable gentleman describes is a very long established and precious freedom. i think it will be quite wrong for me to seek to constrain or circumscribe an independent investigation in what it can cover and what it can recommend. but the point the honorable gentleman has made is an
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important one. i've underlined its importance and i think many people will share his point of view. i think we should now move to the main business, the sittings of the house motion in the name "washington journal" continues. host: now we are going to return to the topic of the phone hacking investigation in the u.k. joining us is alex spillius, washington correspondent for "the daily telegraph," an english newspaper which is the largest circulated daily broadsheet in the u.k. mr. spillius, we asked our
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viewers earlier this morning and i will ask you the same question -- overall, what is the impact of this phone hacking scandal as you see it right now? guest: well, it is huge. the story started years ago and built up gradually d. one person at "news of the world," and more people and more people. the story that came out about the murdered schoolgirl's voicemails the impact exploded the store into a whole new dimension is involving -- it is involving police at the highest levels, journalists, at downing street. it is going to the core of the british establishment. for the british, there has not been a star of this magnitude for some time -- a story of this magnitude for some time. host: as somebody who works for a british newspaper in
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washington, how you define the differences between the u.s. media and the british media? guest: good question. i have often thought about. there is a bit more for a tradition of being disrespectful of authority and assuming people in authority are not so good. the great rallying cry of the british media is to get the so- and-so's. it is an intensely competitive market. there is about a dozen national papers covering the old country. they are all competing for the same audience, whether it is the tabloid market or the more upmarket market. it really is a cutthroat business. in america, you have one or two newspapers in each market and they don't have intense competition. for the likes of "news of the world," what the "news of the world" is up to -- the standards
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are higher in the u.s. as a whole. they tend to be more rigorous. there is an intense level of competition in the u.k. host: is it normal for british newspapers to pay for interviews, access? guest: it is standard practice for the tabloids. host: what about the broadsheets? guest: it is known occasionally. there was a big scandal about mp's expenses last year, which came from information that is the voice of -- information that is the will serve and got on a computer disk. my newspaper paid for that because they thought it was in the public interest. that is a rare instance of a broadsheet paper paying for information. for the tabloids, we call it checkbook journalism.
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salacious information about a night out on the town with a celebrity or pop star or encounters with celebrities. that culture has grown and become more insidious over the past 20 or 30 years. host: how would you describe, to help put it in perspective -- by the way, we will put the numbers on the screen as we continue this conversation about the phone hacking investigation in the u.k. prime minister cameron spoke this morning at a problem about it and we carry that live on c- span -- spoke this morning in parliament about it and we carry that live on c-span2. we carry rupert murdoch and rebekah brooks yesterday and we will speak about that. how do you describe to an american audience the importance of "news of the world" as the largest selling sunday newspaper in the country, and the closure
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of that paper? guest: it was shocking. a lot of people were shocked by the closure. it was a sudden and brutal move, and murdoch's decided that enough was enough -- murdochs decided enough was enough and they had to take this extreme step. "news of the world" set the standard for tabloid journalism. it has been a pretty low standard for recent years, but they have always been in front, always seemed to be getting the best spooks, the best gossip -- best scoops, the best gossip. "news of the world" and "the sun," the murdoch daily tabloid, were the epitaph of tabloid journalism. -- epitome of tabloid journalism the rocket.
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raucous, titillating tabloid journalism, which we enjoy to extan extent. host: did you know, when you were living in london, rebekah brooks at all and her work? guest: she was editor of "the sun" when i was there. she had a reputation of being a very talented, if not ruthless, tabloid editor, if every employee of rupert murdoch. often referred to as a surrogate daughter, because he admired her so much. host: when you worked at "the sun" -- guest: i did not work at "the son of." -- "the sun." she was working there when i was
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living in london. host: all, i'm sorry. please allow 30 days between your calls. you can also send us a tweet --, journa l@cspanwj, and you can continue the conversation on our facebook page. the conversation is an ongoing conversation, and we will be reading some of those comments during this segment of the shout. the first call for mr. spillius comes from taxes on the democrats' line. good morning. caller: good morning. mr. spillius may not be the one
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to answer the question -- host: have got to turn down the volume on the tv. listen to the found and go ahead -- the phone and go ahead. caller: in this country we used to have a fairness doctrine so you had equal time for each segment of politics and so forth. what amazes me is that the very conservative family values types, christian fundamentalist s, are in love with the fox news and rupert murdoch, who built his empire on porn from way back. the man is completely evil. i don't understand it. i wonder sometimes if people realize just how far back this
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pornographic approach of his goes. now it is even criminal. host: mr. spillius, any comment for her? guest: well, i am not sure what the caller was referring to one is saying that mr. murdoch to build his empire on porn. his most famous page of "the sun," page three, there was a topless a girl every day. he did pioneer that. i think that is gone now. but he has never been involved in the porn industry per se. i suppose there might be some irony that in the contrast between the sort of thing his newspapers have done in britain and what his politics is, the fox news cable channel here. we should at this point stressed that there is no evidence of any
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sort of misconduct by any of his american news outlets, be it fox or "the journal" or "the new york post." host: what is his reputation in the uk? guest: his reputation is it one of the most powerful people in the country. he owned almost 34% of the national media market. bskyb, which he on a share -- they blocked a controlling share -- is the big pay-tv service. he has been a huge figure in our public life for the past 20, 30 years, which is why so many of his opponents are so pleased that his reputation has not taken such a beating -- has now taken such a beating.
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host: next call for alex spillius comes from woodstock, illinois. caller: i picked up "the economist" magazine the other day, an excellent edition. on page 12, they go into their editorial basically, and it is based out of london. it says "if it is proven that news corp. managers conducted lawbreaking, they should not be running in newspaper or television firm. they should be in prison." toynbee940's, arnold wrote about challenge and response, and he is from england as well. this is our civilization's challenge at this time, to make sure that we have good, accurate news so we can participate in government. i appreciate c-span taking on this issue as it has. guest: the question does raise a
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legitimate point. at the moment in britain, people are reeling from all the revelations which, day-by-day. -- come out day-by-day paid when it thinks calm at down a little, there will be more about the news industry and regulation and how it needs to be changed. here the regulations were eased up in the 1980's and 1990's. all of his purchases were referred to the monopolies commission at the time, and they were approved. isthink a long hard look a going to be needed about whether it is right for one person to become so powerful. it allowed his news executives to think they could get away with breaking the law. host: rebekah brooks yesterday
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talked about her relationship with david cameron. here is a little bit of rebekah brooks. >> rebekah brooks was invited six times a year to 10 downing street under both the former prime ministers. she has not been invited by mae. i have set out -- the great contrast is i have set out things i have in complete contrast to the party opposite. i can say this to the hon. gentleman, i have never held a slumber party or seen her in her pajamas. host: that, of course, was prime minister cameron from this morning talking about his relationship with rebekah brooks. she talked about her relationship with the prime minister yesterday. alex spillius. guest: as mr. cameron was saying, she has been friends not just with him, but previous
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prime minister gordon brown, and probably tony blair, too. his point was "it is not just me." she slept over at the official country residence one time when gordon brown was prime minister. but david cameron is prime minister now and he is very close to her. in the light of what we now know about what "news of the world closed what journalists were up to, people in britain are having a heart -- what "news of the world" journalists were up to, people in britain are having a hard time believing him. he believed nothing much was going on at "news of the world" or you was just one or two journalists. if you ask, what does this mean for britain, that is probably
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the main impact, that trust is being broken in politics at the highest level and in newspaper journalism. i think that is a problem, and i cannot see at the moment how the trust is going to be fixed. host: next call for alex spillius of "the daily telegraph," richmond, virginia. caller: the previous caller stole my thunder in quoting "the economist" but they finished the editorial by saying "a noisy press is the best protection." and you addressed the political impact. what are the questions for the metropolitan police in terms of the alleged corruption, paying for information? that one has not gotten the prominence i thought it might have. guest: well, it is a good question. just as i said we have to look
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at newspaper ownership and politicians have to look at whose birthday parties, they go to, police have to look at how they operates. we have a fiber six senior members of the metropolitan police, -- five or six senior members of the metropolitan police, refer to as scotland yard, have worked for news international advising them in a pr capacity. what worked for the government. there is this kind of seedy revolving door between the police and as powerful media company. as i said, when it is calms down a little, police need to look at self-policing, especially with regard to what people do after they left. but it also seems to be an issue plane corruption. police were being bribed by journalists to provide information. that could end up, as the caller said, it has not been that
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big a part of the story yet. we could have police facing disciplinary hearings if not criminal prosecutions. host: do you see potential of this bringing down the camden government? guest: -- cameron government? guest: people are beginning to think that. if he had an election in six months, it would be serious. it does not look very good. the scandal last year broke a lot of trust in politicians. now you have got a prime minister who appointed someone, his former communications director, a former editor of "news of the world" when the hacking was taking place. it is hard to believe the prime minister did not know that hacking was endemic at "news of the world," so the only
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conclusion is that he did not care. host: how do you perceive the coziness or relationship between u.s. politicians and reporters? guest: well, it certainly can be cozy. politicians and reporters socialize together. they go to the same parties very often here in washington. but i don't think it is quite reached the level of the occasions that happened in england. the intimacy of weekends away at the official residence, it might be wrong, but i don't think you have american newspaper barons going to camp david for the weekend, which is what happened in the case of rebekah brooks. host: a couple of e-mail commenets. -- comments.
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that is one, to be received. -- one comments we received. next call for alex spillius comes from georgia. iraq on our democrats' line. -- eric on our democrats' line. caller: i think we need ito widen the discussion a little bit. in 1986, reagan signed a fairness act, which put the cuffs of corporate media in the u.s. democrats should be upset about that and allow corporations to spew the news or define reality as they see fit, whatever helps the bottom line of the corporation, not informing the voters. this is a national security
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issue. we need informed voters. if we don't have the fairness act, the corporations can tell voters whatever they feel like telling them as long as they don't tell them outright lies. but they can mislead them, and they are very good bit misleading them. and the british prime minister, the prime minister of britain, said it to parliament that he was scared of rupert murdoch. how could you be scared? if you are the leader of a country, how can you be scared of a newspaper -- host: we are going to leave it on those two points and there. mr. spillius, are you familiar with the fairness doctrine? does the u.k. have anything similar? at the prime minister is saying to parliament he is scared of rupert murdoch -- guest: coming through the back door -- host: yeah, what is the significance of that? guest: they don't want to be seen as entertaining or barack, being friendly to him. it is rare for a -- they don't
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want to be seen as entertaining rupert murdoch, being friendly to him. it is rare for the dignitaries -- host: number 10 is half a mile from parliament or so? guest: yeah, short walk. that was one of the most interesting parts of the testimony yesterday, i thought. rupert murdoch going through the back door under three prime ministers. host: what about the color bang's comment about the fairness doctrine? are you from -- the caller's comment about the fairness doctrine? are you familiar with that? guest: i understand the argument, but the changes in the 1980's to open up the media market. you could say there is a balance on cable, at least. you have a fox and msnbc. one does better commercially than the other, but i will not go into why that may be at the moment.
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host: what about the uk? guest: much more heavily regulated. not in print, but in the broadcast, you have to of both points of view. it is all tightly regulated. host: next call for alex spillius comes from virginia, david. caller: if the british politicians' phones were being attacked, what would stop rupert murdoch from attacking democrats' fault lines in this country? anthony weiner's email was attacked by a supposed right wing -- was hacked by supposed right wing blogger. guest: we don't have any evidence that there was hacking
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in the u.s. if there was, this story is going to get bigger. if evidence emerges of a phone hacking here, especially of politicians, news corp. is in even bigger trouble than they are now. host: how long have you been working in the u.s.? guest: four years. host: how would you compare parliament to congress? guest: that is a good question. as we saw david cameron being grilled, is a live the enterprise. i think we are quite proud of that. i speak to politicians here who wish we had an equivalent. debate here can be stodgy. host: is very popular when we. on c-span as well. -- it is very popular when we
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air it on c-span as well. what is fleet street mean? guest: the print unions had a very tight grip on the industry. in the early 1980's, murdoch wrote that, and he took his newspapers out of the street, -- murdoch broke that, and he took his these papers out of fleet street and 2to a new site. there were protests. fleet street is still used as an umbrella term for national newspapers. host: have you talked to colleagues who work for news corp.? what is their view of this? guest: they are keeping a pretty low profile, i have to say. my colleagues who work for news
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corp. work for quality newspapers, "times of london," "sunday times." one said that hopefully this will blow over soon. i'm not so sure. there are lots of celebrities that "news of the world" wrote about here. "news of the world" had a bureau here for years. it is hard to believe that they did not get into phone hacking as well. host: "wall street journal" this morning, a murdoch publication -- "murdochs are grilled."\ several articles within "the wall street journal" about the testimony yesterday. here is "the times of london."
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"murdoch's defends" is the headline. what was the headline in "the daily telegraph"? guest: to be honest, the time difference, i have not seen it. i don't think it was up " murdoch's defense." [laughter] host: inside "the wall street age becomes.eo's an issue." guest: they have that done it much more thoroughly the last week or so. it raises the question about that your company -- about the head of your company. "then't think we at th
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daily telegraph" have been quite so bold about his age. there are people who know him well who think he was playing that up, playing up the hard of hearing and mumbling more than he does naturally, the gruffness. indulging in elderly theatrics. i don't know if he thought that ympathy.t him said spillius, what does that mean? guest: that is a highly sensitive issue. murdoch, before this crisis, was poised to take control of the bskyb, the biggest pay-tv service in britain. david cameron's government had
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to prove that. is now irrelevant, since murdoch has dropped the bid amid the scandal. did david cameron discuss this application with his very good friend rebekah brooks and other peopl ande -- other people at news international, the new very well and whose birthday party he went to? it does not look great. there are ways of convincing, dodging questions. it does not look great. people are going to conclude that at dinner parties behind closed doors, he was giving the green light. host: who owns "the daily telegraph"? guest: we are independently owned, two businessmen who have been in media publishing for 20 years or so. host: they have owned it for 20
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years? guest: no, they have on our publication for five years. prior to that we were owned by conrad black. host: editorially, does "the telegraph" lien right and did it endorse david cameron? guest: yes, it did. host: next call. caller: i think this all goes back to george soros and media matters. it is well known that he is out to get fox. i think he may have lied about these accusations. guest: well, it is well known that media matters did not like a fox and made it their mission to point out fox's -- what they
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see as the unbalanced as for george soros, i am not sure what he has said about rupert murdoch and fox news. host: funder of media matters. pennsylvania. caller: this is being billed as the phone hacking. in my mind, is more about plutocracy. he is so powerful, and i don't even blame him, because we allow media consolidation. he is so powerful no one will say anything against him, because he knows he will get away with this. jude law said his phone was actor.d -- he is an who would say anything against this man when you control so many things? you would be crazy. guest: that is a good point. media ownership would have to be limited in the u.k.
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people were afraid for him to. politicians would not oppose him, and even individual mp's -- there were people who were afraid to say anything against him, because "news of the world" might say something against me. he did have a great deal of power. host: james murdoch's reputation -- he is based in london, right? guest: he switches between london and new york. we did not see much about him before this business t. he came across as corporate, somebody who had been coached. i am not sure his position will last. some people have said he will be a high-profile casualty of this. host: what about chase carey? guest: chief operating officer
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of news corp., lined up to be taking over as chief executive for rupert murdoch, which would lead him as at chairman, but he would not be involved in the day-to-day running. given the fact that he is 80, i would be surprised if that was not being discussed already before this happened. host: james murdoch is the fourth child of rupert murdoch. what about the other three? guest: elizabeth murdock runs eight production company, married to -- elisabeth murdoch runs a production company, married to matthew freud. it there is another son who was involved in the family business, less so now. host: a tweet to you, mr.
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spillius. guest: the fbi are in the preliminary stages, looking into allegations contained in a "daily mirror" reports that "news of the world" tried to access to voicemail of victims of 9/11 attacks. the fbi are on the case and we're not sure how far it will be taken. the death of the whistle-blower -- very sad. years ago we trained on the course together as colleagues. it is very sad, and it makes the price is deeper. you cannot directly -- and makes that crisis deeper. you cannot directly connected. he had issues with drinking and drugs. host: his issues with drinking
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and drugs were a wall mount? -- were well known? guest: yes, when he told this to "the new york times," his old colleagues at "news of the world" pointed out he had addictions. he was credible. having known him when we were much longer, he is somebody whose heart was in the right place. he was tired of working and living this lie. host: news corp. was terminated payments to the private investigator. what is the significance? guest: the significance is they akept going with payments to people were being
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investigated. the suspicion was they work trying to make sure -- it does not look good if you keep paying people under heavy suspicion, especially if they were not on the payroll. if they were paid job my job -- job by job, as it were. it is typical, the company's reaction to the bank close one thing, they think this is -- thing, theyone think this is over, and then that they are under fire for paying people. i am not sure the company knows how to stem the bleeding at the moment. host: we have about four minutes left before the house of representatives, to session. new york. caller: good morning.
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i watched all the proceedings in parliament yesterday. i was not very convinced by people questioning murdoch and his son and brooks. i thought scotland yard was above reproach. it really shocked me to see what has penetrated into the police force, the law enforcement of the government. also, how come all politicians cozy up to these people across the atlantic? it is both sides. the appointments made a not thoroughly vetted before they are appointed? guest: i think is a very fair point. a lot of britain has been shocked by the revelations about scotland yard. the british police have a reputation as uncorrupt and
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fair, so that has shocked a lot of people. as we said earlier, the force is going to have to look at imposing some sort of system for analyzing and checking who people talk to for payments, the jobs they take up after the date be the service. the second part of the question -- host: i apologize. twitter comment. new jersey, john on the independent line. caller: good morning, gentlemen. i would like to ask alex if the reason why journalists in great britain are so aggressive to get the story is because the law system is you are guilty until proven innocent. the other point is, yesterday, rupert murdoch i looked like --
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rupert murdoch looked like junior soprano on the tv series. guest: well, i missed that part of "the sopranos." i will have to catch up. host: rebekah brooks was arrested. do you number status? gues -- do you know for status? guest: it is a little less serious than it is. it means you have been taken in for questioning. none of the people at "news of the world" had been charged yet. some have been arrested. the next to watch for is being taken in for more questioning, and then charges being brought, which could obstruct police business. host: how are tabloid journalists viewed in britain,
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coming from somebody who is a broad sheet reporter? is it "the new york times," "the
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>> i called this hearing today to shine a bright light on a dark event. the oil spill until yellow
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stone river on july 1. montana suffered two disasters this year. devastating slides and an oil spill. the evidence shows that they are related. but there is no excuse for what happened on july 1. as mon tannins we love our states because of its wonderful rivers. the yellowstone is god's country. i've seen people come visit montana and be transformed the first time they cast a line and it's the largest unobstructed lake. it starts at yellowstone park and flows and makes a right-hand turn and flows towards billings, etc., and
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joins the misratah just -- -- joins missouri. largest unobstructed river. these are just the facts. water's our most sacred resource and oil is our most basic fuel. montana is rich in pristine waters and rich in energy, and we cannot let them mix. today we will exam what happened before and what happened after the spill. what went right and what could have been approved. our first priority is getting this spill cleaned up and cleaned up now. so i want to make sure the yellowstone is getting restored immediately. what's more important is that
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montana landowners be made whole. it means a long-term commitment that exxon will be there years down the road if the value for the land remains damaged by this spill. that commitment must include a plan to compen stated our ranch hands and croppers. finally we'll look for lessons to be learned. we'll ask tough questions about what happened, whether it could have been prevented. were the effects of flooding in the yellowstone properly taken care of when the pipeline was constructed and was it built with the yellowstone in mind? this was not the first flood in montana and won't be the last. we also know there are many other crops by pipelines in montana. so what to be done to make sure
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this never happens again. first we want to know mon tannins will have a voice in this project. two mon tannins will be here today to share their stories and insights and there are folks back home that want to hear from you as well. the congressional record will be open for two weeks and make -- we will make sure your written comments are included in the record. thank you-all for coming. i understand you just got in, red eye from montana. montana is not next door. it's a ways away. so thank you both for coming. and so thank you very much. all right. i'll begin with bob. i've known you for years and i
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have a high regard for your works and the e.p.a. bob is the deputy administrator of the u.s. environmental protection agency and we also have with us the honorable cynthia quarterman, with the department of transportation. the first panel. second panel includes mr. scott mcburney from montana, landowner in montana. thank you for coming. and gary president of the exxonmobil pipeline company with of course exxon. so why don't you begin first perch accepty. >> that's right. >> and lit automatically go on the record and summarize. >> ok.
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chairman, thank you for inviting us today. and we're happy to be here to discuss the role and activities of the exxonmobil pipeline break into the river and the subsequent oye spill. with our partners we are committed to protecting the yellowstone river and the communitiesen around it from the adverse pipeline oil spill. as i think we all know now, this occurred on july 1, late at night. the break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline owned by exxonmobil that resulted in a spill of crude into the yellowstone. it remains at is,000 barrels based on information provided by exxonmobil, but the state of montana and others are still investigating this including the amount of oil released. the agency has issued
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exxonmobil to take a number of cleanup and restoration efforts. we will continually and thoroughly continue to review their work plans and data and field activities. e.p.a. shares the responsibility of responding to oil spills in the united states with the u.s. coast guard as well as prevention and preparedness with other agencies. in the inland zone of the united states, e.p.a. is the coordinator. it's responsible for oversight and pipeline safety and my counterpart who you've already introduced will discuss that agency's role. i would also like to point out that the state and especially governor switeser have been involved in the coordination
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and coordinated response to this spill. the governor's leadership in the deployment of several agencies and the experts from other states are representative of the extraordinary effort of keeping the people of montana informed about what is happening on the ground. as part of our mission to protect the environment and at an abundance of collection, we have been collecting air and surface and water samples and as the floodwaters have started to recede, soil samples. the scat activities, the process of inspecting the soil and vegeation that need to be cleaned up in a particular area. teams are now finding quantities of oil under debris piles, and those of you know
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unobstructed streaps know that de brie piles up mostly wood and logs and such will pile up during a flood and under help the we will see the accumulation of oil there. so the scat taken place including the state are currently exploring a range of ways to clean up those without disrupting the ecostp that's always a ba we have to consider. making sure there are no carbons above incorporate samples. there are no contaminates in the ambient air along the yellowstone at levels that would pose a threat to human health. these monitoring efforts taken in the plan by our partners will continue as we remain focused on taking all the necessary steps to protect public health.
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as our initial data are collected, we will have more of a look at our impact. the e..a. also follows strict scientific and quality eninsurance protocolors. and as soon as ept p.a. has updated data, we post the information on our website and in addition we provide daily updates to the public and hold community meetings. i want to take this opportunity to -- as of july 18 there are 755 person me the on-site and 610 currently on the field engaged in cleanup or sample activities. cleanup crews have used an asomplet of booms and 9,000 square feet of about sore want pads. they have removed 505 cubic
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feet of oily solids and the so i had waste is being shipped to a facility to reclaim those materials. evacuation also last weekend of the pipeline removed 370 barrels of oily liquid and about 80 barrels of oil. the next steps, in coordination , we are committed to protecting the community from adverse effects of oil and we will be transitioning to the emergency response toward a state cleanup standard and the e..apt will continue responding to public and environmental concerns at this time and after my partners' the, i'll answer any of your questions. >> thank you very much. plpt perciasepe, what's
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scat-driven mean? >> that is a -- >> those of us who hike may have a different view, but scat is a shoreline assessment process that i think the exact words -- i never can precisely remember, but it's a process where you go along the shoreline and actually evaluate what needs to be done, and that gets reported back to the cleanup crews but mostly the responsible party, and that directs the cleanup activities. and that process is ongoingal until we're done. >> i was just curious. thank you. the honorable cynthia. >> good morning chairman baucus. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the pipeline and the investigation of in response to
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the exxonmobil oil spill in laurel, montana. safety is the number one priority of secretary la hood, myself and the employees of phmsa. we are all looking at protecting the safety. more than 200 homes across the area and our job as film zay is to ensure that it is all safe. population growth and development have been rising, however, the number of incidents involving onshore pineline -- with a car responding apt spid. despite those overall improvements, i am deeply trubblingd by this recent oil spill. secretary la hood and myself
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and we are always mindful of the substantial effects these incidents can have on a community where a spill has occurred. i can assure you phmsa is continuing to look into this and will continue to do so. our partner e.p.a. will also looking into the devastating effects of the yellowstone river and its surrounding communities and clean up activities. the ruptured pipe is not available right now for further assessment. when it becomes accessible, we will further look into it. we will verify the condition and operational status of their crossings. we will advise the appropriate
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measures and monitor them more frequently and coordinate their efforts with other niche operators. before this occurred phmsa was actively monitoring but due to the onset of heavy flooding, phmsa inspectors began monitoring it on a daily basis. in response to the potential risks prior to the spill we asked exxonmobil to perform a depth of coverage confirming the pipeline was buried at least five feet below the river bank and the south bank was covered on average by 12 feet of cover. mr. chairperson i assure you phmsa will remain vigilant in monitoring all pipeline under its jurisdiction and that the
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silver tip pipeline is free of environmental risks before the pipeline is permitted to restart the line. phmsa will continue to monitor and ensure the public is protected and that any violations are swiftly addressed. thank you, and i'm happy to respond to any questions you might have. >> i'd like to basically start with you, bob, and basic questions i have. the extent of the damages, if you could just tell us just what the damage is, what it's
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worth as a spill is somewhat obvious, but how much damage is left either in terms of oil or contaminated ground, air pluse or homes where -- just damage in any sense of the term that anyone can think of second, when do you think it will all totally be cleaned up? turn your microphone on first, too. >> ok. let me try a number of observations based on those questions. we have set in our order a plan that we would hope that we would be done by the fall. with the cleanup.
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but that's going to be highly dependant on a lot of variables including those scat teams which i want to make sure it stappeds for shoreline cleanup assessment technique which are groups of people that will go up and down the shoreline and continue to assess the damage, and then sometimes you have to come back again once things are revealed. we also know the conditions from the flooding, we're starting to see as the water reseeds, some of the soil that has been oiled along the shoreline, and we're out there monitoring and sampling that soil. we're also seeing, as i mentioned in my testimony, some oil that has accumulated under the debris piles that are associated also with flooding. so we're in the process of assessing those with our partners, including the state, and we will be aiming towards the states to find cleanup
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standards that they are involved with helping us define as we go along. also in so of the ranch and agricultural land along the river that may have been soiled with or oiled -- soil that may have been oiled, we're also bringing the department of agriculture in to work with us and to assess, help us assess what guidelines and cleanup standards might be appropriate for some of those areas that did get oil. >> so what agencies -- what governments determine what standards? you mentioned usda. it sounds a little confusing. >> well, usda, we're bringing them in for their technical expertise, but we will go with what the state determines is a cleanup standard that they would like to see. we will continue the scat process until we get to those
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-- >> do you work with the state as far as the standards? >> yes. >> and do you know what the state standard is? >> well, it will depend on whether it's oil or soil or water or sheen. under the water act, we want to remove the oil and oil products, so there's no more visible sheen or oil in the environment. the state may have some additional cleanup standards that they want us to follow, that we will want to incorporate. so i don't want to say it's one or the other. with the clean water act we have responsibilities, but we also have responsibilities to work with our partners in the state. >> so what's the responsibility under the clean water act? >> yes. >> what's it? >> under the clean water act that sets up the oil pollution control program, we are responsible for directing the cleanup act i have thes that
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are underway now. >> i don't want to be too technical. are there federal standards under the clean water act with respect to oil spills? are there cleanup standards? >> well, there are water quality standards that we have to get back to. those standards are also, i might add, mr. chairman, are standards that the state sets. >> correct. >> under their clean water act. under cleaning up oil, there are a number of observeible approaches you take including removal of the visible oil and the sheening on the water. >> i guess the question is we need to know what we're dealing with, here, which is what is the standard? people need to know what the standard is. >> well, you have drinking water standards. >> i'm just talking about the average guy along the river, he
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wants to know as he should, what's the standard by which e.p.a., the state, exxon, all related here, are cleaning my place up to? so how's he supposed to know? >> well, it will be water quality standards of the state of montana is what we will have made sure we've achieved. >> is that known what that is? >> i don't have that in front of me. but it should be known. >> it should be. >> well -- >> may i ask you to work with the state and do all that you have to do so that the people affected by this spill know what the standard is. know what the standard is to which the lands are supposed to be cleaned up to. we -- everybody needs to know what the standard is. it sounds like we're not quite
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sure what the standard is at this point. >> well, there's a number. first of all, you're going to want the agricultural land to be able to be used for agricultural purposes. then we have the drinking water standards set by the state and set by the e.p.a. and we want to make sure all those components are put to use and -- >> you're basically the lead agency, the e.p.a., right? >> the cleanup. >> so do you take charge of putting these standards together? and incorporate it into something that's easily understood by people? yes. for example, the farmers and ranchers, they are going to have to talk to the usda, i suppose and find out what they can help you with. >> yes. we will be responsible for
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making sure -- i want to say that we must do this in partnership with the state. we have an important and primary role here. >> i know i've sat so many times in the intersection between the state and the feds the clean water act. >> so we would be, as we go through that process of looking at the soil, the river water and any drinking water that may have been impacted down the line there, we're going to be circling back with those requirements to the cleanup to the responsible party. >> i understand there's still an odor an oil odor in some places. why is that? how can that be? how can that be remedied? >> well, our air quality, we have not seen anything in the air that from the oil that would be of any immediate health concern, in fact, at night when most of the organic
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have till things were coming off the oil like ben accident scene, perhaps, the fair to department and that had evacuations of people in that subsided but it's hard to know sometimes, but the human nose is actually more sensitive than the monitoring devices. in other words, we can smell some of these organic chemicals at very low levels. even at a level below what would cause health concerns. >> well, -- >> so the owner. >> every time i drive to the capitol, i have to have the top up on the car. >> that doesn't mean we're not monitoring to make sure those levels are not at a higher level of health concern and of course we don't want those odors to be there in the long haul, but it is possible. the point i'm trying to make is
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it is possible for people to continue to smell some of the oil odors even though the levels -- >> well, people smelling it irrespective of whether it shows up on your monitors is unpleasant. the odor is still unpleasant. and that will be potentially harmful. >> well, i would agree that people can be adversely affected by odors that are not what they are normally subjected to. but removing the oil so that the oweders go away is part of the process. but we're also trying to monitor, senator, in the ambient air so they are not at a level so we're not looking at a cancer long-term risk.
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>> do you know what was in the oil that spilled? >> well, it's generally well known oil. it's from usually a mix at this refinery from wyoming oil from wyoming or in some cases a mix of canada oil sands, oil. that general mix is generally well known, but we have samples, specific samples of the soil at the lab as does the state and others. and we're waiting on those lab results which will give us a more precise thing, but we generally know what is in this oil. as soon as we have those results from the lab, which i'm expecting any day now, we will post that on our website and present it in our public meetings that we have out there. >> for the record, could you send the results of those tests
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to this committee, please? >> yes. those results will be made public as soon as we get them. >> ok. the big question -- a lot of landowners, who do they trust? how do they know what this stuff is? how do they know when this is going to be cleaned up? you know people don't want to be left hanging. they want to know if there's an end date. so forth. i understand that you've ordered exxonmobil to remediate the contaminated areas and all areas by september 9. so what does that mean? will that be total remediation or partial or what does that mean? >> well, we want the full remediation to the kinds of standards we were talking about
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earlier. the -- we will get to every place that has oil on it. as we learn of them or find them through our scat teams. and i want to say that that order was done within days of the spill to put neyer everybody's belly on a schedule. but if we determine more time is needed for cleanup, and we're not done, we will extend that to keep working to keep exxonmobil working on the cleanup. and so those dates are out there. we're requiring plans to be made to cover all that during those time periods, and we still think that that is possible, but the dynamics of the flood waters and what we find as those reseed could
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determine the dates. >> is the standard 100% clean? what is the standard? i'm a landowner. can i be assured my land will be back where it was? >> that's the objective to have no impact from the oil on the land where the oil has been deposited. and one of the governing factors there would be to make sure the land could be used for what it was used for before the spill. >> so your understanding of the use of the land are what? some are used for rec creation and some for crops? what's your understanding? >> yes. crops, grazing land. there may have been rec creation land. obviously some of it is in the billings more urbanized area. all of those previous uses and
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existing uses will have to be protected and enabled after the cleanup. >> how much is left to be cleaned up? what per zphrent >> i will not know the answer to that, again, because of the floodwaters and the fact that we are waiting for some of those floodwaters to reseed to see what is under there, and as i mentioned, we're discovering some of the oil has accumulated under some of the snags and debris piles. it's hard to say for sure how much more might still be out there. but again, we're not going to rest until we find it all and direct the responsible party. >> so when do you think you'll know how much more work you'll have to do? by what date? >> i can't give you. i mean, we're hoping that we can clean it up in the time
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frame that was in the order, and that would be what we would aim for at this time. but if we discover more than we currently know, and we need the responsible party to have more time to clean up, we will amend the order to give more time to make sure we don't leave anything behind. >> can you keep this committee informed? >> yes, we will. >> and we are going to continue to have daily briefings. we are going to continue to have public meetings. as we get more data, we will not only put it on our website. we will report it in public meetings. if there is a need to extend the plan, the time for cleanup because of what we discover as the floodwaters reseed, that will be a clear public discussion, and we'll definitely keep this committee notified of that. >> do you have enough resources? >> i think we do.
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what we have here, and we have been adding as we thought we needed it, and we ramped up pretty quickly, and there's over 700 people now working on this. the issue is going to be the die nap i can between the floodwaters reseeding and our discovery process through that scat teaming that i mentioned and time may be the only other resource we need of that we put in the order. but i think we're adequately personned-up right now. >> a few questions about your relationship with exxonmobil. how much of the work are they doing? it's my understanding that they have a responsibility. it's my understanding that exxonmobil has a responsibility to pay for the cleanup, if you could just tell me about the interaction between the e.p.a. and exxon as you're working to
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remediate here? >> well, the clean water act sets up a process where there's a responsible party. exxonmobil has clearly indicated that they are the responsible party. there's been no arguing about that. they have put the resources in it, the majority of the resources that are on-site working are directly funded by exxonmobil. we have e.p.a. a number of e.p.a. employees as well as e.p.a. contractors augustmenting that and verifying the work. all of that, plus state resources or tribal resources, and we're working with the tribes as well. all of those resources will be reimbursed when we get to the end of the process here. there's been so funding put forward already from our oil cleanup fund and again, the responsible party will have to reimburse that when we see what
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the final bill is. >> thank you. we're honored to be joined by senator. if you wish to make a statement? >> actually, i'm going to wait until the second panel and have some questions there. but thank you. >> a couple questions of you, mrs. -- basically, if you could just go through a lit of the chronology here. it's my understanding that august or so time that the people of laurel were a little concerned about the integrity of the pipeline, about the river potentially rising.
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earlier on before the incident, and consulted with e.p.a. consulted with the state. a little concerned about the integrity of the pipeline and exxonmobil, too. and then then there was a review of the pipeline. pep issue a talked to exxon. exxon conducted a study and so forth. then it turned out as basically the pipeline caved and we had this incident. so from your perspective, walk us through the chronology of what happened. >> absolutely. about october of 2010, we were approached by the city of laurel, their public works department. they contacted our inspector and had been trying to find out whose responsibility it was for pipeline safety and contacted our office and said that they
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were concerned about thesive tip pipeline. i think their concerns primarily related to the south side of the pipeline crossing. at that point we met with them and with exxon, and we required exxon to do a depth of cover survey to determine the depth of the pipe line and how much earth was on top of it. >> that is under the river? >> under the water,ing correct. they cape back to us and had at least five feet of cover on the part of the pipeline that was on the river bed. that was sufficient to meet the four-feet construction requirements in the pipeline safety regs. i think the level of the river continued to rise, and about may 25, we were contacted again by the city asking, you know,
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saying the river is very high. we still are concerned about this pipeline. again, we contacted exxon to ask them specifically about the south bank of the river crossing, and that the concern there was that if the river were to rise up to a certain level,ed the get into what i believe is riverside park and there the pipeline could be exposed cop meetly if the river were to rise high enough. so we contacted exxon and were informed they had on average 12 feet of coverage on top of the pipeline on the river crossing on the south river crossing. at that point our inspector began to go out there on a daily basis to observe the pipeline river crossing just because the river waters were very high. >> when was this?
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about what date? >> i believe this was may 31 we began monitoring all of that. at the same time we began to monitor autopipeline associate in the that area to ask help the to pay special attention, because the waters were very high, so that continued on, and around june the city was again contacting i believe exxon. and so we decided to go into exxon and look further into their integrity management runs, do a fuel verification. they have done an inline inspection of this line in 2004 and 2009. so our folks went in and looked at the raw data for that inline inspection in 2009 to see if there were any causes for concern in terms of anomalies
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on the pipeline at the river crossing. as a result of that inspection, i think they found one anomaly. in 2009, however the size of the anomaly was below our threshold for required fixing at that time. and of the 2004 inspection run also showed the same anomaly, so there hadn't been any growth between the 2004 and 2009. so they felt comfortable that the -- in terms of the integrity of the line that there was not an issue there. >> we're cutting to the quick here. we don't have a lot of time. something went wrong. >> absolutely. >> that is at one point both exxonmobil and penalty issue a thought everything was ok. and everything wasn't ok. pipeline ruptured.
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oil spilled. so what went wrong? what went wrong with the company and what went wrong with p me -- pemshaw? because you both agreed everything was ok and it wasn't. >> well we do not operate the pipeline on a day-to-day basis. we came into assist the state with their concerns about the pipeline. ultimately the operator is responsible for operating its pipeline. they can't rely on us to say yes or no, this is a good idea to continue to operate the pipeline. >> what's your role men? if the company can do what it wants to do, what's your role? >> our role so oversee the decisions that they make -- the only instance in which we can essentially tell an operator to
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stop operatoring its pipeline is if we see an imminent hazard. and i would have to say in this instance with the foresight of "20/20," obviously the pipeline should have been shut down at the time and given the data that was available, i don't think that our pipeline inspector thought that he had the authority to order exxon to close its pipeline. >> when you look at the pipeline integrity and crossings, do you look at hi drawlics of the the high drawlics and mobility of the river bed? i mean every river's different and the river bed of every river is different. some is grappling, some clay,
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some might be granite, who knows? and the flood hydraulics of every river is different. so what do you do? do you just take willy nily whatever the company says to you? if the company says to you, well, it looks ok to us. unless you quote see an imminent danger, is that just it or do you ask them about high drawl i cans and the river bed and how -- hydraulics and the river bed? >> that will be the subject of our research. we have obviously begun to interview exxon and gone to its control room. and we will go to its integrity management plan, not just the data, but the plan itself pursuant to those regulations, the operator has a responsibility to --
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>> sounds like pem -- phmsa on its own doesn't do any of that. that is look at the specifics of the river. >> our responsibility so review the maintenance procedures and scombegty management plan for the priorities. it's the operators' responsibly -- responsibility to operate safely. they are supposed to put in place a continual process for improving their pipeline and ensuring, evaluating it, assessing the conditions. and maintaining the integrity of the pipeline, including those associated with flooding and other climatic issues. >> right. do you have specific rirltes as to the integrity of pipeline plans? that is specific requirements to be contained in that integrity plan? >> yes. we have requirements.
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>> can you give me examples of one or two or three? >> well, every operator is supposed to, at the beginning, perform a risk assessment of its pipeline stp. so at every place where it crosses a river or where a soil changes, it should know the conditions of that line in terms of whether it is particularly corrosive so it can determine what sort of testing should be done pursuant to the begty management plan. it should know the river crossings and know whether or not it's susceptible to flooding so they can go beyond what is the minimum requirements in the regulations. so we require them to do a continual improvement of their own systems. i mean, we have certain minimum requirements in our regs, but
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it doesn't mean that that is the only thing an operator needs to do. they really need to be active on their own pipeline in ensuring that especially in a high-consequence area like this, they set forth a plan that addresses all the concerns. >> the depth of coverage surveys? >> i'd have to get that information for you. >> if you ask exxon to do a little investigation, and part of that is your depth of cover, and they come back and say depth of cover is ok, my question is how accurate are depth of cover surveys? and do you look at specific rivers hydrology? of the river bed content? all this getting to the
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accuracy of the depth of cover survey. >> i've heard six to nine inches. but i would want someone to review that. >> to be honest, ma'am, it sounds like you're not really on top of this. i mean, that's the impression i'm getting so far. and i urge you to get more on top of it. i got to be candid. that's the impression i'm getting. would you tell me a little bit about the difference between trenches and drilling and when one is more appropriate cop paired to the other -- compared to the other. >> this was entrenched with an open-cut technology which was the prevalent technology used until i'd say the early to mid 90's.
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more recently the horizontal drilling is used at river crossingings where you would rather than stop the water way and trench the pipeline, you would actually go underneath the river from one side to the other so it would be much deeper. >> when is it more appropriate to drill as opposed to trench? >> we don't have set standards in our regulations at this point in time. one of the things that we have done recently is to put in place -- we've opened up a set of comments for our hazardous liquid management program and essentially everything is on the table at this point. one of the things that happens at the end of our investigation will be that in addition to reporting on what happened in this particular instance, we
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will also make a recommendation about changes that need to be made to the pipeline safety laws. >> we, obviously -- when do you anticipate concluding your information as to the cause of what happened in this case? >> at this point we have not been able to get the pipe out of the river. we're expecting perhaps in august that the waters will be low enough so that it can be removed. at that point it will take probably two or three months for us to get the results and conclude our investigation. >> so you probably won't know until october. is that right? >> that is probably right. if you compare it to some other investigations, i think it's probably right. >> well, i urge you to de vote a lot of attention to finding
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out what went wrong as quickly as you can and not letting this drag out and report to this committee your findings. >> absolutely. >> ok. i a just not sure frankly ma'am that i'm satisfied that your agency is on top of things, here. in fact, i'm quite -- >> well, let me assure you that our agency is very aggressively looking at pipeline safety issues, and it has been a period during which there have been a number of significant incidentses after almost a decade of few incidents. and we are looking diligently of all aspects of the pipeline safety program. as i mentioned with respect to hazardous liquids, we began a review of those rules last year
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where the -- we're in the middle of a rule-making process regarding that. with transmission pipelines, we're getting ready to -- we look very closely, we put out a rule with respect to the distribution of pipelines. we just expedited the application of the control rule management. management rule that went into effect. >> all that's fine. all i know is in this case the company made a mistake. it was wrong about the integrity of the pipeline. your agency made a mistake. it was wrong about the integrity of the pipeline and it's our job to make sure there's no reoccurrence. >> i agree that we don't want a reoccurrence. >> so your report that tells us what needs to be done to minimize to the possibility of
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zero, any reoccurrence. >> that's our goal. zero. >> i look forward to seeing that report. >> thank you. >> thank you both very much for your time to come and talk to us. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> ok our next panel. we have three. mr. scott mcburney. lives on the yellowstone. the honorible county commiggetser of yellowstone county and gary producey, president of exxonmobil pipeline company.
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>> ok. service commissioner. with the utmost distinction. for a good number of years. always re-elected. bill? >> thank you senator baucus. and thank you for inviting me to the committee for insight on the exxon oil spill in the yellowstone river spill. i've not some prepared statements, and i'd like to after listening to the statements earlier, i i'd like to make a couple comments also. >> i am bill kennedy. the pipeline crosses yell towstone river located in my county. we're located 140 miles south of yellowstone park and we had a lot of inquiries of was there
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a spill in yellowstone park? there was a spill east where about 300 miles and the yellowstone river and another area. we're in the area. senator that ends up in louisiana. we've received a president shh emergency declaration on our county and statewide. the amount of snow pack is way above normal, and the yellowstone river has been higher since may. this gives you a background for the july 1 oil break of the exxonmobil pipeline. i've been monitoring the flooding on the yellowstone almost daily since the river hit flood stages. our disaster and emergency director was out there and we have been monitoring the height of the river. it's been high water since may.
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and we're still in the high water stages, even though we've dropped, we're still in the high water stages. late on july 1 our director opened the emergency operations center. the laurel have tier fair to department along with the sheriff's deputies evacuated approximately 125 people from their homes along the yellowstone river. the air was heavy with the smell of crude oil. the immediate danger was not known at the time. but all emergency personnel were notified. and that's very important in our county, and especially all the counties below us that feed out of the river. approximately 242,000 gallons of oil had leaked into the yellowstone river and employees from exxon responded immediately and within hours the valve had been closed shutting down much of the oil. we live in the west, and water
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is very important for us a and safe drinking water and watering crops and our montana rivers are very important to us, but public safety and cleanup are priorities on our prong. all parties hit the ground running. at 6:30 a.m. on saturday morning, i was out there on the river, and then we called a press conference that morning. immediately, about 8:00, 8:00:30 we called the press in to let the public know the drinking walter was safe. the city of laurel is above where the break was, the city of billings, the lockwood intake, the huntley intake, all of them were shut down early in the wee hours of the morning, that saturday morning. exxon was already onboard. e.p.a. and the safety e.q. were
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en route and the july 4 weekend became a real life disaster in our county. the cleanup process was under way but at this time it was clear the local government was informed but not involved in the decisions and the next steps of what was going on. e.p.a. took charge with samples and results were slow to come taking 4-7 days. as they noted earlier, they are still waiting for sanchal results. upset over the unknown and by day three i asked to be at the table on the decisions and the plans for cleanup. it was agreed the county would sit on the board and we were briefed but sampling and cleanup were still left to the e.p.a. and d.e.q. they did take our suggestions. we provided mapping and if landowner's names and they contacted our residents. i asked every agency to have a live person on the phone and
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face-to-face meetings with the public. the state set up a local office and took their own samples. but we all need to work together. and that's very, very important on this. we need to have a strategy to keep local government officials onboard and in decision making decisions. we know the residents and the geography and companies in our area. this spill opened our eyes as to what a leak can do and how emergency planning networks work. and we need to be included on decisions on cleanup and future safety planning for our residents. we have five other pipelines also this in -- also in this have i sinty. we have three refineries and have always had expectations that d.o.t. checked and assured everything was good. this is a wake-up call for our
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county to be more involved. some positive outcomes that came is we are now invited to participate in the daily briefings on the status of the cleanup. we actually get emails every day from e.p.a. local landowners have meetings with exxon and the agencies which we have insisted on, and they do have that back -and-forth dialogue. local efficients are included in the briefing. they have held public meetings which came from our insistens. local workforce is being trained for hazardous cleanup and we have 125 people in the area that are being trained. the you been pick -- the public now knows what to expect. we have assurances from exxon that the property will be cleaned up and put back to the way it was before the leak, and
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we have independent water and soil sampling through the state and e.p.a. to confirm these assurances. what can we do better? publicity will take a while to explain to agricultural producers and tourists that the yellowstone is safe to use for crops and that tourists can still float and fish on the yellowstone river. communication between all parties took a few days to be seamless, and i tell you we're still working on that, and it needs to be from the very onset. local and government officials are still not included in decisions, and as you saw with the d.o.t. and e.p.a. today, never once did you hear in their testimony that they mentioned local government officials. they have mentioned they work with the state and other fede

Today in Washington
CSPAN July 21, 2011 2:00am-6:00am EDT

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